“A Different World” by Kai Tao

Times were changing, you could see it in the way everyone’s faces quivered whenever someone brought up religion or politics. You could sense it from the way every shadow seemed to fall along in imprecise, unnatural angles…or how when leaves fell, their floating journey to the ground seemed predetermined, robotic–as if nature itself was whispering in humanity’s ear. And as John walked through the city street to his office, the atmosphere was functioning further to prosthelytize him to the irrational, primal anxiety. 

The recent news, yelled from TV screens like end times prophets. They were preaching an end to the oil supplies, and a recent phenomena that was called a “reaction to unstable times by the collective unconscious”.

Cults were forming around this new “religion.” They would claim the statues that John walked past, formed from the cutting edge “neuro-aesthetic art” movement and depicting in maddening reality images fostering an all encompassing view of 3D plains, as well as various non-Euclidean designs, were augurs of a nightmarish alien god. This future religion had not yet found one brave enough to be a prophet. John pondered such things, looking to tease some fragment of truth from this esoteric mystery, as he arrived at the office.

The conversation John was having in the hallway upon arriving was soon cut off by the advent of the morning drills however, and all employees were instructed to take their disaster positions. 

John reached his position in a few seconds and began going through the motions of the safety drill inside the illusory fortress of his office building, its facade of safety accentuated by the mist and grey of the morning being held at bay by the thin and flimsy walls. He took his knife, performed a quick calculation on his smartphone, and cut his skin open, the blood dripping in the requisite eldritch pattern. The routine comforted him.

The home of Jonathan Philip Carter was a small, unassuming, and affordable affair. Its interior somewhat belied John’s inquisitive, antiquarian personality, expressed in the macabre art and old Tibetan, Greek, Latin and Hindi texts adorning the walls. Despite this he was obviously not averse to using technology, he’d have to be insane then to choose his current method of employment, a speculative economic advisor. Altogether, John was exactly the type of person to be fascinated by the kind of headline he was about to read. “Doomsday cults organization under kafkaesque spiritual uncertainty and anxiety demonstrates a reaction of the collective unconscious” the article read: the one that would drag him down the rabbit hole.

The day the UN finally acknowledged the crisis that faced mankind as a whole was several years later, the tension, which hadn’t been this high since the days of the Cold War or the Great Recession. John had been dragged into the cult a few weeks after his foray into the dark side of the internet. His search took him from zealous worshippers of this new uncertainty to racing lunatics demanding the construction of rail guns, “epistemological drugs,” and nuclear weapons, designed to hold back the coming of this new, nihilistic deity. Eventually he’d come across an underground meeting of these various occult coalitions, a veritable “Council of Nicea,” dedicated to the founding of a new public imagination, one based on new moralities. John’s admission to this arcane organization was the catalyst to his eventual breakdown, or at the very least that’s what the police and psychiatrists would agree. This was before he stood in the spotlight as their prophet of the end-times.

John stood the day previous to his incident before the epitome of his group’s faith and the key to their evangelism of the masses. The fog that John had been experiencing, aided by the shamanistic trances and delirium inducing diseases he had endured for his new anti-faith, was such that neither he nor his compatriots new the exact nature of the thing that stood, or more accurately floated before them. 

Such was their delusion that none truly new of its truth, a birth among asymptotic cosmic numbers, asexual fission inside a nebula, or a product of the lunacy and madness of a young race of hominids. 

Before John stood a clear, plexiglass tube, nothing particularly striking, inside floated the very image of madness.

Suspended from wires within the mixture of yellow specimen preservatives and held together with surgical pins leered a composite being of nightmarish aesthetic. 

Even doctors and anthropologists would be troubled discerning whether its tendons were natural or surgically grafted into the amorphous mess, whether its outer and inner organs were the product of genetic manipulation, natural birth, or the grafting of pieces of various animals together.

More uncomfortable still was the lack of mitochondria, and the festering parasites it had instead, or even the distributed brain center, built in a 16 cell shape, like the shadow of something in the fourth dimension, like a tesseract. The creatures rotting countenance finally broke the anxious mind of Jonathan Carter, and as his reflection stared at him accusingly, and from the scraps of inhuman and blasphemies-against-nature scraps of occult knowledge he had uncovered in his quest, psychologically fulfilling, at least to the cultists and their new converts. Knowledge was powered from its new great prophet and priest. He ran out the door into the night, screaming in inhuman, sticky words.

The world might never know what that creature was, but John did.

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