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A Credencium story
Kaolin Imago Fire
Start at the beginning of the Credencium series
Something chased after Joshua, night after night. He knew he was dreaming, and still his feet were frozen in place. Heart pounding, his legs strained, but he could not run. And then the earth opened wide.
He had been having nightmares since the earthquakes, but what was he running from? All he knew was what he was running towards, or trying to. He was trying to face this monster head on, yet it was always behind him. The earth shook again, knocking Joshua to the ground. He could hear the creature's steps, feel them, a deep rumbling, always just one heartbeat away from snatching him. His heart pounded. Why didn't it snatch him? The walls shrank inwards; the exit telescoped away.
Scrambling to right himself, he realized his feet were free. He crawled forward, pushed to sprint, and fell just as he stood, bruising his hands and knees. "Fuck!" he cried. He could feel stale sweat seeping through his shirt, his armpits turning slick again. The rancid smell filled his nose. "Fuck!" He tried to spit the taste out, but his mouth was dry. He swallowed another curse, pursing his lips and sucking, trying to get saliva to flow. His mouth and lips were so dry, like cotton mouth. Was he on something?
"Dreamer...." The voice curled through him like smoke, hoarse and sexless.
A tentacle slithered across his leg; he twitched away, turning to slap at it—nothing was there. Nightmares, circles and circles. Another tendril slicked up his back, sending shivering spasms through his body, and was gone.
He heard jackhammers, grinders, sparks from welding. Things were being torn apart, remade. Or just destroyed? How was this his doing? Why did he think it was?
"Come to me...."
The voice nagged at his memory. His mother? Had he forgotten her voice? No... this was too young, though it had the texture of eternity.
He turned again, and saw it: a thousand arms, a thousand legs, squirming like worms, stretching impossibly long. Its maw was void, the end of everything—the beginning of it all. He giggled, imagining all of creation being absorbed and shat out anew.
It was his mother, his father, his loves and hates; it was people he had worked his magic on, and people he had given his magic to; it was him and not-him.
And it was screaming; its flesh seemed to be shifting, shimmering, rolling out and around its form, compressing to a point—some other form pulling out of it.
It was Ashley. Ashley. He'd never known her name before, not really. Phoenix. Ashes. Ashley. Full circle. What was she doing here? And why did he suddenly know her name?
"Now is what you couldn't see."
The half-voice, half-thought echoed in his mind. He wanted to ask her what she meant, but he no longer existed. After a moment's existential terror, he felt himself in another body, not himself. They were breathing, they were thinking, and he fell into those patterns, those feelings.
Ashley was there, watching. He saw himself come in—the music, so familiar. His first night in Berkeley! God, he looked young. No, not young: new; naive; fresh. He was glowing. Ashley was candy-flipping, just a touch of ecstasy to offset the acid. He—she—they—there was an emptiness in their skull. A tingling, copperish absence, a dangerous abscess. She was there to flush it out—the drugs helped, but it was whatever the Golden Dawn were doing... they were keeping her down, keeping her out of the game, and it was killing her.
Why was she going along with it? The answer came to him as though he had always known: because she had been waiting for him. The dreamer. The sleeper. She had needed someone with belief, someone flexible, someone with an emptiness to answer. She had made him—found him—filled him. Why? He was overwhelmed by thought of her suppressed power—that she could have called him into being from across the country. He shuddered. That they—they could do that... to her!
He had not been ready that night. She had opened all his doors, shown him the world, and it had all flooded in: the darkness, the possibilities—and what else? He had shut down.
She whispered to him, from deep inside: "And me."
So that was the secret. That was his mastery. That was his life since coming to Berkeley. It had had nothing to do with him—
"No. I woke your power. You don't have mine. You haven't had mine. I just gave you a nudge."
But—did souls, exist, then? Was his mother out there, somewhere, waiting for him to dredge her up as well? Was she with him, looking out for him? He had contemplated the world's end, but had not for a second considered the miscellany that filled the cracks. After all, if he believed it, if he let himself believe, wouldn't that just fulfill his wish? Would what came back be what he'd lost?
"Nothing is ever what it was, Dreamer. But don't over-think it. Focus. The earthquakes are coming, contractions of the Golden Mother birthing the new Dawn. But this child—this child is an abomination. It must be terminated."
So personal? What was Ashley to the Golden Dawn? What were they to her?
"The Dawn is mine—was mine. A glorious thing, an awakening of global consciousness, endless possibility. For that to happen, it needed to grow. It needed believers.
"Threedog—Cerberus—was like a brother to me, looked out for me when I first landed on the street. He knew I was a little off. He was an easy convert. Hunin and Munin came quickly after. Then came Brian.
"Brian was a little disturbed, but I thought I—we—could help him. He came to the streets from a tour in Iraq. Sometimes he'd let slip things he'd seen, things he'd done. Mostly, he wanted a fresh start. Mostly, he had one, but he kept in touch with his squad. They'd all been discharged together, a weird situation. That, he didn't talk about at all.
"He was good at rallying people; a natural leader, and convincing. He thought to find us the compound, and got the training under way. His people made deals, kept the cops and whoever else away until we could do that on our own power.
"Those days, we used the drugs to explore possibilities, to generate ideas. Well, and for recreation, too. Then came Credencium. That's what we called it, anyway, after. And who knows what it really was, by then. It was five-methoxy DMT, but belief did funny things to it. It did funny things to belief. To all of us.
"That's when the monsters came, slipping in and out of reality; in and out of our minds. You wonder why I let the Golden Dawn cut me off—it's because if they hadn't, if they'd left me free, those creatures would have used me the way they're using the rest of the Golden Dawn, and our world, mankind's world, would have lost. I didn't see that at first, but after they cast me out—well, with separation came clarity.
"Since then, they've built up their fortress. They've refined their processes. They've stockpiled weapons. They've slowly let go of their selves to this vision of undoing everything. The Golden Dawn is now nothing more than semi-autonomous tools of such beings... the closest we can approximate them would be to call them the Great Ones, or the Deep Ones, or the Old Ones. Perhaps they're all those things, or none; who knows what shit old Lovecraft was smoking? Though Deep Ones seems most apt currently; because that's the plan.
"These earthquakes are building to a climax. And when the big one comes, San Francisco will sink as an offering to them, and the fabric that holds our world together will be theirs to play with."
Story and image by Kaolin Imago Fire, Copyright 2011