by Michael Mann
Paul Czysc was prone and faced Cambodia. He shouldered his sniper rifle and switched on the sniper scope. Halfway through his second tour, recons and night ambushes were not new to him, but the Starlight scope was. The Starlight scope had problems. It weighed six pounds, would not hold a zero at any range, even with the best rifles, and the humidity caused blooming problems and fade-outs. It whined constantly when switched on and during use caused an eerie glow in the operator’s eyes. It was useless as a sniper sighting scope, but for observation, it had merit. He focused across the clearing and what he saw startled him. A nebulous undulating mass rolled across the clearing toward Czysc. Tendrils reached for him, touched, and then snapped to envelope him in a suffocating, putrid cloak. Rabid dogs snapped at his heels and spiders crawled on his skin. Reflex kicked in and he scrunched as flat as he could, heart pounding hard, his skin horripilated. He smelled the sour tang of a wild animal and realized it came from him. He was afraid.
“Death,” he heard a voice that was not a voice, “makes the last appointment for all men.”
The utterance was malignant and terrifying, a guttural three packs a day rasp that vibrated evil. It was a hiss from Medusa, a rumor of myth and theology, unspoken perversion understood around the world, and older than time. Combat invoked fears, but this was beyond living. This was an ethereal and eternal evil of every cruel intention with terrifying meanings that are dark and sick. The spoken words encapsulated all dishonesty, lies, deceit, and unsavory characters of all people past and present and those yet to come.
A weight that was not a weight pressed on Czysc. He labored for breath. Every hostile gesture in every arrogant action derived from every selfish manner, told in every language, which highlights every sin in all humans were thorns in his sides. When birthed by this Whisper, the eight words express the descriptions of all feelings and emotions void of any semblance of humanity. The syntax expressed was of the damned: the words spoken or thought, elements written and yet to come, every phrase of all sentences in every language, the thoughts of all people past, present, and future that damn themselves.
This Whisper is an evil exposition of and the set of all rules that produce all grammatical structures for all languages spoken, thought, or imagined that are mean, devoid of goodness and used to humiliate and destroy. The Whisper sensuously speaks what we want to hear, they caress and sooth but convey absolute madness suffered by an infinite number of people that span infinity in all directions from all times in all dimensions. Czysc tried to understand the words but to his mind this implies clarity brought about by understanding as with shining a light on a subject. This was none of that. This was an amorphous madness beyond eternity that delighted only in eternal suffering. Filled with every type of pain that extracts a price from all yet to come. It was beguiling in the degradation of the spirit of man. It transmits knowledge of human perversion and mankind’s sufferings, real or imagined, eternal yet limited, everlasting and temporary.
The experience unnerved Czysc, there was no one nearby to speak, yet he knew this much was true. Evil so removed from human comprehension and void of all compassion flew on reptilian wings. To embrace it was madness that extended after death. He looked again through the starlight scope at an image that could not exist. Something waited. Czysc wiped his eye to remove the sweat, shaken by what he saw and again focused on the thing. The image appeared humanoid, but the outline roiled as if burning; shape shifting. What he witnessed was not right, nothing about this image was right or good. Czysc drew down on the form, aligned his weapon as best as he could, and tightened the slack on the trigger.
One syllable, soft like water over rocks, the scent of an exotic flower’s subtle fragrance, or the purest unconditional love. A sound that was not a sound but Was Sound. It came from without and within; to and through every cell in his body. He became whole, one with his emotional, intellectual, mental, and spiritual bodies. He became human as before the forbidden fruit. The Voice was yin to the yang of the Whisper, it is the nemesis of the Whisper. The Voice filled Czysc with eternal hope, expectation, and bliss. The word created an instant Oneness with all things good and wholesome. The one syllable imbued him with the knowledge that if he fired, the Whisper would not die; instead, something good would leave his soul to be replaced by eternal darkness. This truth was so absolute that every cell and muscle in his body instantly obeyed the word, and he relaxed and did not fire.
He blinked and sought the image again, but it was gone.