|Whom God Destroys
by Michael Bard
© Michael Bard -- all rights reserved
As the dust settled, Dave's first thought was thank god this light still works!
He was still on the ledge where he'd been examining the ancient altar when the cavern had started to shake. Somehow, all the rocks tumbling from the roof had missed him as they splashed into the water.
Now he turned and shone the light into the water to look for Bill, but he couldn't see anything. Just silt.
Bill had to be all right. He had to be.
Dave put the scuba mouthpiece back into his mouth and slipped into the silt filled water that was pooled in the bottom of the cave and shone his light around.
Nothing but dim darkness. He'd have to wait a bit for the silt to settle to see anything, but there was no time. Emptying his vest he sunk to the bottom and then felt his way along to the wall and then circled. He would come to the entrance soon, and, he prayed, not too late.
It was soon, and it was also too late.
He bumped into a massive boulder that he knew hadn't been there before. Then he felt around the bottom, feeling his way. An instant passed and then he could hear a faint burble of escaping air. An instant more and he felt the rubber of a fin. He leaned close and shone his light and recognized one of the fins worn by Bill.
He felt his way up the leg and up to the boulder that the leg continued under. His light showed that the water was tinted red.
His heart beating he peered and he could see the Bill, almost crushed under the boulder. But it wasn't the boulder that had crushed him. It had fallen, slowed by the water, onto Bill's back and pushed the twin scuba tanks right through Bill's spine. Dave could see air burbling out of a tiny crack where the tank had warped, the air causing the guts and scraps of intestine and lung to bounce around where they hung in the water, still attached to Bill's ribs by strips of flesh.
Bill was dead.
In his training, Dave had been told that you could actually vomit through the mouthpiece. It had horrified him, but he had remembered the lesson, and the most important part - which was not to spit the mouthpiece out. No matter what.
Yes, it was disgusting. He heaved, and exhaled it through the valve, and then inhaled new air that stunk of vomit. And that made him heave again.
Somehow, by some force of will, he kept from panicking and just lay on the floor of the cave until the vomiting stopped. Then, slowly, he partially inflated his vest and then swam the ten feet or so back to the surface. Then, finally, he spit his mouthpiece out.
Now, calm, he carefully rinsed the mouthpiece clean. He would need it to get out.
Then, still calm, he swam back to the ledge he'd been on. He would have to wait an hour or so for most of the silt to settle, then he could find his way out. Until then, there was nothing he could do. Nothing for Bill, and nothing for himself but to wait.
But he could cry.
And cry he did. Tears of anger, tears of fear, and tears of hatred. Hatred at a world that would do this to him. A simple vacation through the Hawaiian Islands. A fun dive with his closest friend to see an ancient altar that was far in an underwater cave. Few people knew about it, and those who did found it odd. How had anybody used it, when it was almost a ten minute dive to reach it? And the altar itself was strange, just piles of rocks seemingly dragged from the sea bottom outside of the cave, and paintings of long, thin, greenish arms. Sort of like an octopus', but ending in human hands.
But now he didn't care. Now all he could do was cry and scream.
And then, sooner than he would have liked, he couldn't cry anymore, and he no longer needed to scream. It was done. Now, he had to survive. So he shone his light back into the water and saw that most of the silt had settled. Then he shrugged and put the mouthpiece back in his mouth, and slid into the water.
This time it was easy to find the entrance. And the boulder that had killed Bill. Now the pool was almost silent. All the air had burbled out of Bill's tanks and all that remained was the hiss and roar of his own breathing. Carefully he avoided looking at Bill's body and swam around the boulder to the entrance and freedom.
Unfortunately the boulder blocked the entrance and freedom.
He swam to the top, and saw that there was an opening, but it was only six inches or so wide. There was no way he could fit through. Now what? He finned over the boulder to where it met the entrance. Then he removed his tank and let it float with only one strap over his shoulder to keep it from floating away. Then he braced his back against the cavern wall and his feet against the boulder and pushed.
He pushed harder, straining and sweating, sucking and panting for air.
Nothing. Or did it move.
A tiny bit?
Not at all.
But he kept trying, after all he had nothing to lose. He worked and strained and swore, gulping in his air, and whoosing it out.
He wanted to live!
He would give anything to live!
And then there was a response.
He stopped and checked his gauge - down into the red zone. Great.
Then he felt a query in his mind. An offer. A sing song of words he couldn't understand.
Ignoring caution he sped to the surface, the strap dragging on his shoulder, and spit out the mouthpiece. "Yes!" he screamed. "No matter the price!" His words echoed and bounced around.
More of the words and the sense of a warning and a last chance.
He still had nothing to lose. "Yes!"
And then the presence flowed into him, crawling arm over arm over arm into his mind and into his back and into his spine. Arms and arms and arms. Soft flesh. He felt his bones melt and his body shrink. His arms and legs shrunk and wiggled out of his dive skin and booties. His fins sank into the depths. His mask and tank slid off boneless skin and sank or floated away. And then he began to sink. Helplessly, bonelessly. He tried to hold his breath but couldn't close his mouth. But he seemed to inhale. He could feel the water burble and bubble through him. And then he exhaled the water. And then he repeated. And it was fine.
And then he could see and feel. He had no bones, no fingers, no knuckles. His skin was soft and dirty gray, and all he had were arms. Numberless arms. All fleshy and soft, covered in skin and suckers. Other than that he had a body, and eyes, and that was it. Arms, body and eyes. All soft and boneless.
And then he heard the voice, and this time he could understand it.
"For eons and ages and time beyond imagining I have waited. Here in the shadows and the darkness after I created the world. After I dragged the rocks and stones from the depths to create the land. I, Na Kika, the Octopus, the Creator! Here have I awaited my time to return. I awaited the sacrifice and the blood and the offer. And now I have returned to rule my domains as was promised!"
Dave could feel himself being pushed and compressed and hidden in a tiny corner of his body. Although it was now soft and fleshy and boneless, it was still his, and he fought with a rage born of despair to keep it, but the ancient deity kept pushing until he controlled it all, and had Dave squeezed into a little corner.
"And now, child of Nareau, tell me of what the world is like, the world that I will rule. The world of your brothers and sisters who will bow to me as Nareau promised eons ago when I dragged the land from the oceans to allow him to create. Tell me of the slaves that I shall own!"
And Dave had no choice but to do so. But he didn't really tell, he simply watched as Na Kika ripped his memories from his mind. Ripped his memories of all the men upon the earth, and of their machines and their ships and their bombs.
And when Na Kika ripped the memory of the H-bomb tests at Bikini, it was Na Kika who reeled back in fear. It was Na Kika who wanted the memories to stop, but he had summoned the cyclone of power and couldn't stop it.
Na Kika was a god, but Dave was desperate and had nothing to lose. With each memory taken from him, a little more of his soul was ripped away. A little bit of knowledge, and a little bit of pain. But what he kept, in a secret, burning core, was the urge to flee, to get out of this trap. And as Na Kika took more memories of bombs and submarines and airplanes and spaceships and all the horrors of man, as Na Kika wailed in fear and terror at what Nareau's children had become, that last burning core of Dave took control. He sucked in water and pushed it out and grabbed and tugged with his eight arms and made it through the small crack between the boulder and the entrance. And then he inhaled and exhaled in a roar and shot down the passageway toward the open sea.
And now it was Na Kika who was terrified. He feared the bombs and the fire and the very strength of the sun, the eye of Nareau, that the children of Nareau had harnessed. Now it was Na Kika who didn't want to come out into this new world of horror and power and death. And now it was Na Kika who fled and became smaller and smaller and let what was left of Dave grow and take control.
But there was only a little of Dave left. Just a need for freedom and escape. But it was enough.
Enough to send Na Kika fleeing from the new gods who walked upon the world, the new gods who harnessed the power of the sun, who slipped deep and silent in the depths with their massive engines of death. It was Na Kika's fear of the God that was Man that destroyed him as he fled out of the body that he had been promised.
Out of fear Na Kika choose death, over a futile struggle with the God that was Man.
And it was Dave who survived, or at least a little of him.
Just enough for a small octopus to feel that something was missing through the days and years as he jetted and crawled through the coral looking for food.
Website Copyright 2004,2005 Michael Bard. Please send any comments or questions to him at firstname.lastname@example.org