To tackle the Terribleminds tiny tale-telling trial, “An Affliction of Alliteration“:
At last. The answers were finally within reach.
They’d all told him he was mad. His colleagues in the studies of the arcane and obscure, scholars like himself, had said it was forbidden for him to delve into underground ruins such as these. What would they say now if they saw him here, the flesh-bound tome in his hand, its incantations spilling from his lips as his stained fingers followed the words scrawled in blood? Nothing kind, to be sure. They frowned on this and had tried to keep him out of every library they could contact.
And that was before their goons had shown up to deal with him.
Mercenaries, he’d gathered. Hired from some private military company to subdue or possibly kill him. But they’d arrived too late. This ruin was now his home. He knew its secret passages and secluded corners, excellent places from which to spring with a good, sharp knife in hand. He chuckled as he looked at the corpses around the room. All that expensive military hardware, and they couldn’t stop one bookworm with a sharpened piece of metal.
Not that they stood a chance. Nothing could stop his destiny.
One of them clung to life. He crawled slowly, his legs refusing to work since his spine had been severed. That had taken a bit of doing, what with how the knife stuck between the vertebrae when the mercenary had taken the stab above his kidney. Now the man on the floor was muttering something about a wife and child as he reached for a gun or something. The scholar made a face and, not turning away from the tome, moved to put his boot on the mercenary’s head. He kept applying pressure until something broke. He didn’t look to see what it was. He just scraped off his boot and went on reading.
Honestly. Some people had no manners.
Finally he began to feel the change. The air became charged and more thick. Breathing in to continue chanting took more effort. Giddy anticipation surged through the scholar. This was the moment he’d been waiting for! He’d never been able to get the vision out of his head, nor to quiet the voices he heard day in and day out. Now, perhaps, with the arrival of their master, they would fall silent.
The chamber shook. Masonry began to crumble. The ground heaved beneath the scholar’s feet and everything seemed to shift and twist around itself. It was as if reality was trying to reject the very thing he was calling forth from the void, the whole world recoiling in fear from that nameless thing once banished into the cold dark between the stars, bent on returning to devour the souls of the unwary. But the scholar felt no fear. In fact, even as the room threatened to bury him forever, he began to laugh.
Every jock that had put him down in school, every girl that had turned him down because of his looks, every colleague and so-called superior who scoffed him for not being as brilliant as they – all of them would suffer. He was the only one with the mind to discern the clues that lead him here and the fortitude that gave him the means to do what had to be done. Now was his time. This old world would be swept clean by his will alone, and when the new one arose, he would be its master, just as what he was summoning would be his.
There was an audible popping sound. The world stopped rolling like the nauseous belly of a child who’d eaten too many sweets. The scholar blinked tears from his eyes. He caught a glimpse, just a glimpse, of something that was at once familiar and completely incomprehensible. He thought he’d be prepared, but he found himself speechless, stunned. He’d anticipated being in awe, genuflecting himself before that which now walked the earth. But in that moment, he did nothing. He wasn’t sure if he’d succeeded or failed. He didn’t know if what he’d seen was an earthly manifestation keyed to ensuring his mind did not snap too soon or some sign that he’d been outsmarted at the last second by a more mundane source. He hesitated.
Then something tore him open from the inside and there was no more thought. He felt no sensation other than agony. The pain tore away all his joy, all his anticipation, all his hope. And the pain did not end for an eternity.