Doctor Luna Valdez swallowed nervously as the elevator descended into the heavily fortified sublevels of the Dreadfort Facility. She was heading all the way down towards the bunker, and they didn’t keep anything good down there. It was made entirely of thick, reinforced concrete and steel bulkheads, and buried under so much dirt it was impossible to get a cell or radio signal. No one was allowed down there unless absolutely necessary.
Today, it seemed, she was absolutely necessary.
A very large male guard by the name of Joseph Gromwell towered over her, clad in full black armour with a passive exoskeleton meant to ease the burden of the shocking array of combat gear he carried on his person. With his militant posture and an opaque helmet that left him faceless, someone who didn’t know any better could have been forgiven for mistaking Doctor Valdez for Gromwell’s prisoner rather than his charge. Luna knew and trusted him well though, and was glad that he was there to watch her back as she entered into the most secure and clandestine underground complex north of the Great Lakes.
The elevator landed at the bottom of its shaft with a pronounced 'thud' and its doors ratcheted open. They were greeted by several more guards who initiated a series of biometric and RFID scans to confirm their identity. Once they had the all-clear, Luna and her escort were ushered into some kind of surveillance room. Inside was a tall, lanky man in his fifties, his long and haggard face prematurely aged from a lifetime of smoking. Even now, his face mask was around his chin as he nervously puffed away on a cigarette.
“Doctor Helvig?” Luna asked, recognizing the senior researcher immediately.
“Hey, Valdez. Sorry to have this goon drag you down here, but we have a situation,” he informed her.
“I am not a ‘goon’. I’m a paramilitary agent of an opaque and unaccountable globe-spanning secret organization, thank you very much,” Gromwell quipped. Luna chuckled, but Helvig only responded with an annoyed glared.
“Sit down, Luna,” he ordered, nodding to a chair in front of the control console, and rolling his own chair to the console's edge before she could get any closer. "Keep six feet back though. I'm going to be chain-smoking until this pack’s empty.”
“You know, the six-foot rule doesn’t apply to secondhand smoke,” she chastised him gently as she took her seat.
“Secondhand smoke is a chronic risk, not acute. You’ll be fine,” he barked gruffly.
“Guys; it’s the two-meter rule. You’re supposed to use metric. You call yourselves scientists,” Gromwell said with an exaggerated shake of his head. Helvig glowered at him in contempt, but didn’t otherwise reprimand him.
“So, what am I looking at?” Luna asked as she examined the screen in front of her.
Floating in a general-purpose, supermax containment cell was an amorphous medusa head of an iridescent, dark green fluid. It was a vapour at the edges of its being, but that condensed to a liquid the closer it got to its center. The fluid congealed into a ball of tightly coiled braids of various sizes, some of which flapped about loosely like frayed tentacles. Solidified shards of the same alien substance orbited around its body like the ice rings of some medusoid gas giant. The bottom of the sphere possessed a long tail-like appendage made of several of the tentacles, and in the center of the mass, there was a single elliptical orifice ringed with vivid green flames.
“Its ID number is on the file there, but its nickname is The Gordian Knot, or just Gordy,” Helvig replied. “It’s been down here since the 1950s, at least. Everything before that is classified, but according to its file, it hasn’t done jackshit but float there for the past seventy years. Then, two hours ago, it opens up that giant eye or whatever it is and starts asking to speak with its keeper.”
He tapped a play button on a screen of some earlier security footage.
“Keeper. Keeper. I wake, my keeper. I slumber no more,” it spoke in a metallic monotone. “Come and claim me, my keeper. Do not terry. Do not dally. I am eager, my keeper, oh so very eager. Come claim me from this dull box, and you will see how eager I am.”
“It’s repeated variations of that phrase since it woke up,” Helvig said as he hit the pause button. “I’ve checked in with the higher-ups, and they want this kept on a need-to-know basis for as long as possible. I want you to conduct a psych evaluation over the intercom, and we’ll decide how to proceed from there.”
“I’m sorry, a psych evaluation? On that thing?” Luna asked incredulously.
“Yeah? Why not? It has speech, it has observable behaviour; evaluate it,” Helvig ordered. Luna sighed, but didn’t argue with him. She specialized in paranormal humanoids, not in Lovecraftian abominations like this. But, if it could communicate, then there was the potential for some kind of analysis.
Nervously clearly her throat, she pressed the button for the intercom.
“Hello? Can you hear me?” she asked as gently as she could. The entity’s stance became more rigid – while maintaining the ethereal and unending circulation of its own fluid – and tilted its orifice up towards the security camera.
“Hello,” it said, drawing the word out as long as it could while still retaining its meaning.
“Thank you. My name is Dr. Luna Valdez, and I –”
"Is my name Gordy?" it asked innocently. Luna's eyes went wide at the implications of this question, but tried not to let her alarm show in her voice.
“I’m given to understand that some people here call you that, yes,” she replied. “But I’ll call you whatever you want.”
“My native language, if you can even call it a language, isn’t phonetic. You lack the senses to perceive my words, my names,” it told her, its voice taking on a melancholic timber. “No smattering of arbitrary phonemes could even remotely approximate the meaning of my name to you. It would be degrading to even try.”
‘Perceived superiority, resents need to accommodate those it views as beneath it,’ Luna jotted down.
"I'm very sorry for not being able to comprehend your language, and your use of phonetic language is greatly appreciated," she said differentially. "What phonetic name would you prefer I call you?"
“ ‘Gordy is a silly name for an Eldritch Abomination’. That’s what they said,” the entity quoted. “I don’t want a silly name.”
‘Prideful. Fragile ego. Doesn’t mind being called an Eldritch Abomination tough.’
“Of course not. I’m sorry you were ever called that to begin with,” Luna apologized. “If it pleases you, I will address you as Magnificent Elder One until you choose a name to your liking. Is this acceptable?”
“I… accept this, yes,” Gordy replied.
‘Narcissist, easily flattered. Suggestible when its egotism is appeased.’
“You are most gracious, Magnificent Elder One,” Luna said. “You have been sleeping many years, Magnificent Elder One. Why do you awake now?”
“I sleep to dream, and dream so that I may see into the minds of men,” Gordy answered. “I have peered into the deepest subconscious of millions now, and I am convinced that will prove an adequately representative sample for my keeper’s work. There is nothing to gain by sleeping any longer. Now is the time to wake, and work. I am eager to begin.”
“I see. You called out for your keeper when you first awoke. Could you tell me more about your keeper, Magnificent Elder One?” Luna requested.
“Yes, more than I can tell you of myself, for he is far more alike to you than I am,” Gordy replied. “Or, the part of him which protrudes into this world is like you. He is a man, or man-shaped. He speaks and thinks in words, like you, and hears words both said and thought. I do not think words, at least not as you or he does, so I spoke so that he might hear. I… do not understand sound so well. It remains a very abstract, very alien thing to me. I’m not sure if he actually heard me. But, you heard me, did you not? Surely, he must have heard me then as well, for he is far greater than you.”
‘Does acknowledge its own limitations; seems to regard its keeper highly.’
“Yes, Magnificent Elder One. If I heard you, then surely your keeper would have as well,” Luna humoured it. “Please, tell me more about your keeper.”
“He summoned me here, and clad the small part of me that was three-dimensional into something close to earthly matter, so that I could have a presence in this world and interact with it,” he continued. “He summoned me so that I might use my higher-dimensional perspective to view mortal minds far more efficiently than he ever could, and gather all the information he required.”
“Required for what?” Luna asked softly.
“I… don’t think I can’t explain it well. I’m not as good with words as my keeper is,” Gordy admitted. “Each mind must be… not broken, but not fixed either. Remade, maybe? Each mind must be remade. Madness, you would call it, as you are now, but once you are remade you might understand, or you might not. It does not matter. But my keeper and I shall remake you as we need you to be, and your minds will all be screaming and shining. Your civilization will crumble and your bodies will wither in your new delirium, but we do not need those. My keeper will keep your minds as he has kept me, entombed in not quite earthly matter, so that you will stay screaming and shining forever. One day, aeons from now, when the stars are right, your many screaming and shining minds will be enough to lure in a… you have no words, no concept, but they are great in size and being, and your screaming, shining minds will resonate with their own and they will try to take you into themselves so that they may become yet greater. And then, all will resonate and sing in tune with the will of my keeper, and he will be the new heart, the great conglomeration of maddened minds will beat in time with him, and it will be… not good. Not pleasant, anyway, but you will be much mightier than you are now.
“I’m sorry, I tried repeating the words my keeper said to me, but I don’t think I said them right. When my keeper gets here, he will explain it to you, and you will agree that it is for the best, just as I did.”
“…Thank you, Magnificent Elder One. This is joyous news,” Luna lied. “Would you excuse me for a little while? We need to make preparations for the arrival of your keeper.”
“Of course,” Gordy said with a slight nod of its entire body.
“So, Gordy wants to marinate us all in madness until we’re tasty enough to use as bait for some nameless cosmic horror?” Helvig asked as he snuffed out his cigarette in his ashtray, and before Luna had removed her finger from the intercom button. She retracted her hand like it was red hot, hoping that the entity hadn’t heard him.
“What is the matter with you?” she asked rhetorically with a frustrated shake of her head. “And yes, it sounds like it. Right now though, all we have is its word. It could be lying, or crazy, or both. And if it is telling the truth, it sounds like it and its keeper need each other to carry out their plan.”
“Then right now, the priority should be keeping Gordy and his keeper apart,” Helvig pronounced as he pulled up his mask. “If the keeper is the more human-like of the duo, our focus should probably be on him. I’m going to go update command and security. Keep an eye on Gordy until I get back. If he leaves his cell somehow or does anything other than float there, pull the breach alarm immedi–”
Before he could even finish the word, he was violently pulled sideways by an unseen force and vanished into nothing.
"Shit!" Luna screamed, jumping back in her chair.
"Code Black! Repeat, Code Black!" Gromwell shouted into his walkie-talkie. "Doctor Helvig just vanished right in front of me!”
"I said I didn't want a silly name," Gordy said over the CCTV. Luna and Gromwell spun around to see that Helvig was now cowering in the corner of Gordy’s cell.
“Holy fuck. I’ve got eyes on Helvig. He’s in Gordy’s cell, E-15. Do you copy?” Gromwell asked.
“We copy, Gromwell. We have orders not to engage. Stay with Valdez. Over,” another guard answered. Black lights began to flash, a deep klaxon began to wail, and the heavy footfalls of security personnel running by outside their door could be heard.
“Luna, what the hell just happened?” Gromwell asked.
“It’s a higher dimensional being; it can reach over three-dimensional walls as easily as we could reach over a line in the sand,” Luna replied as she hit the talk button on the intercom again. “Magnificent Elder One, please don’t hurt him!”
“I am going to remake him, remake his mind, so that you can understand what awaits you,” he said. “It won’t hurt. He will scream, but that will only be from the existential horror of being transformed into a new form of being. There will be no physical pain. I promise.”
The shards that orbited Gordy’s form moved to envelop Helvig, penetrating deeply into his body, causing him to scream and spasm in agony.
“Oh. Never mind, then,” Gordy said nonchalantly. The shards levitated Helvig off the ground as he continued to convulse. He made a noise that sounded like he was trying to curse Gordy out in rage, but it only came out as a pitiful whimper. The shards burst into flames of the same green glow that ringed Gordy’s singular orifice, with arcs of green lightning flickering between them. Helvig’s body began to smoulder and then disintegrate into black mist, until there was nothing but his central nervous system left, including his horrified, bulging eyes.
Gordy sucked what was left of Helvig into its orifice, its shards returning to their orbits around it.
“Hopefully, he will be ready by the time my keeper is here, and I can show him that I am ready as well,” Gordy remarked.
“Sweet Jesus,” Luna gasped, cupping her hands to her face in unbelieving horror.
“That cell’s not going to hold it, is it?” Gromwell asked grimly. Luna shook her head emphatically. She turned the computer monitor towards her and began typing. “What are you doing?”
“I need to access the classified information on this thing,” she replied.
“What do you mean? If Helvig didn’t have clearance, then you sure won’t,” Gromwell said.
“Helvig had seniority on me, that’s it. We’re the same rank, but he had a hell of a lot more disciplinary issues than I do, enough to severely curtail his access to the database,” Luna explained. “I’m logged in under my own credentials now. Give me a minute.”
As Luna read through the file, Gromwell kept a watchful vigil on Gordy through the surveillance screen. If it could grab Helvig through the walls, then it stood to reason that it could hear through them too, if it wanted to. Fortunately, that didn’t seem to be the case at the moment, as Gordy was too focused on rearranging and recalibrating the base components of Helvig’s mind into something more to its keeper’s liking.
“Okay, I think I might have something,” Luna announced. “One of the physicists they had studying it thought that the exotic matter which makes up its three-dimensional form is only metastable, and if you pump enough energy into it, it will destabilize and decay into baryonic matter. They were never able to test that though because its exterior is too resistant to energy absorption. But its interior might be more vulnerable, and now it has an opening we can use to get something inside of it.”
“There were an awful lot of ifs, buts, and thinks in there, Luna,” Gromwell remarked hesitantly. “But if that’s our best shot, fine. How do we go about pumping its inside full of energy?”
“You know this bunker better than I do,” Luna replied. “What do we have down here that we can use?”
“There’s a drone with a mounted electro-laser weapon we use as a cattle prod for… well, that’s need to know too, but it can deliver up to thirty megajoules to its target. Do you think that would do the trick?”
“It’s worth a try,” Luna replied, seceding over the control chair to Gromwell. “Discharge the entire battery in one shot. Gordian seems to be ignoring us for now, but if it realizes the drone’s a threat to it, it’ll take it and us down like insects.”
“Understood,” Gromwell nodded as he entered his credentials into the security system. “Command, this is Gromwell. On Valdez’s recommendation, I am going to attempt to use the A-ZULA drone to deliver a massive electric shock to the bogie’s interior, as Valdez has reason to believe this will be lethal to it. I need you to override any security bulkheads between the drone’s docking port and cell E-15, as well as open the cell door. Do you copy?”
Several seconds of silence trudged past before Gromwell's walkie-talkie crackled to life in response.
“We copy, Gromwell. You are green to cut the Gordian Knot. Over,” the voice on the other end replied.
“Copy that, Command. Over,” Gromwell nodded. Within seconds, the drone piloting program was opened on his monitor, its multiple camera-feeds and sensor readings available at a glance. Taking a firm grasp of the unit’s control stick, he took off and began flying the weaponized quadcopter down the spartan corridors towards his target.
“Jay, Gordian’s not facing towards the door, and I don’t think there’s enough space in between it and the wall to get the drone in,” Luna said, anxiously staring up at the security feed.
“Yeah, I see that,” Gromwell acknowledged. “Do you want to try talking to it again? See if you can get it to turn around?”
“Sure,” she said quietly as she reached for the intercom, her voice almost utterly devoid of confidence. “Ex-excuse me, Magnificent Elder One? Can you please tell me how Doctor Helvig is doing?”
“He is screaming,” Gordy replied atonally. “He is not shining yet, but he soon shall.”
“Wonderful,” Luna nodded, her voice wavering, a tear falling down her cheek. He may have been a douche, but he didn’t deserve that. “Ah, the room you’re in now isn’t big enough for you to meet with your keeper in, don’t you think, Magnificent Elder One?”
There was a pause, as Gordy seemed to consider her words.
“I had not thought, no,” it answered. “But, it is smaller than the space where he first summoned me. Perhaps he would need more space. Yes. I should look for more space.”
Gordy slowly spun around, its radiant orifice now facing the door. If it noticed that the door was open now, it was utterly indifferent to it. It stretched out its tail tentacles and pulled itself forward in a manner akin to an octopus moving across a tidepool, except that its tentacles weren’t actually making contact with anything. The fluid of its being quivered now, possibly in agitation, producing an unnaturally low rumble as it did so. It passed into the corridor, its splayed appendages casually ghosting through the walls.
Luna was terrified that Gordy would simply vanish, unconfined to three-dimensional space as it was, but it seemed sincere in its intent to find a bigger room to greet its keeper in. It jerkily perambulated down the hall, glancing slightly from left to right as it did so, seeming to inspect the rooms through the walls as it did so.
It didn’t stop or even flinch when the drone rounded the corner, apparently regarding it as a completely innocuous resident of the facility.
Gromwell did not waste his one shot, pulling the trigger as soon as Gordy’s eye was within his sights. In an instant, a laser beam ionized the air along its path into conductive plasma, delivering megawatts of electricity directly to the center of Gordy’s three-dimensional form.
Gordy showed no reaction, at first. It merely levitated in place, tentacles wafting like kelp in a gentle current, seemingly unaffected and unconcerned by the massive electric discharge. But then, Luna and Gromwell saw that Gordy was starting to vibrate, and that vibration was intensifying. Harder and harder the knotted orb quaked, emitting reverberating shockwaves that shook the walls around it as it did so, until it instantaneously imploded inwards on itself in a single ear-splitting crunch.
Every iota of Gordy’s three-dimensional form was gone, though it presumably still existed on its own plane of existence. The only trace that it had ever existed in our reality at all was the mutilated central nervous system of Doctor Helvig lying helplessly on the hard concrete floor like a beached whale.
It had been coated in something green, or transformed into something green, or used as a mold for something green. Whatever that green thing was now, it was alive, and aware. It wiggled and writhed and visibly beat with some kind of a pulse, glowing faintly in a sickly green light and somehow producing a high-pitched screech that rang through the air like a police siren.
Shining, and screaming.
Written by The Vesper's Bell