I am the Earth.
Well, not quite. I am though! Just not the whole thing.
I guess I'm nothing but an old rock, when it comes down to the facts of life.
But the thing is, I don’t see myself as a plain old rock. I'm special, or so it seems. You see, I reside in this huge subterranean cavern. Not just on the edge, or in some random spot, or even on the ceiling. I am set squarely in the middle. Its a rather large cavern. Around me, the lesser stones gather around, A testament to my superiority over them. Each had their time, but I overshadow them all.
My followers painfully drug me here when I was first unearthed. Before that moment, darkness was all I had ever known. Pure, unending blackness that allowed neither time nor light to pass through. For how long I existed before the breaching, only the mother would know. And despite my greatest efforts, the inception of my sentience is a complete and total mystery. I merely am, and have been for as long as I have remembered.
As I gaze about the cavern, the little workers scurry about, their armored hides coated in metallic dust. From the multiple passages that extend away from the grand central chamber, they scurry in and out, oblivious to anything but their job. The larger four-legs occasionally come & go, piles of ore stacked upon their segmented, spiked steel shells. The little ones unload it as the minor hulks kneel to the ground. Ore is piled high in the deep troughs circling me, and is slowly eaten away as the little ones and their brethren become hungry. It seems that I must be too magnificent to be eaten, or do not taste good, a fact that I am quite happy with.
After the same daily routine of feeding and carrying, the entirety of my followers gather. From the largest of the tunnels saunters the great one. He, unlike the rest, stands on two legs, beating his chest all the while with his stone like hands. Roars echo through the cavern as he approaches me, still shorter than my highest spires. All of the assembled pay attention to him, the grumbling he generates from his body unintelligible to me but apparently of great importance. The masses then join in the sound that ever so voluminously increases in pitch. Brilliant light gently flows from my mass throughout the cavern, shades of blue and green enveloping all the assembled minions, piercing the dark crevices and brightening the wide tunnels.
As the sing-song screech ends, the room returns to its darker self, my light disappearing. The tiny minions all huddle against the base of my enormous mass, the larger carriers encircling them, a protective barrier against whatever enemies these steel-coated behemoths might possess. Their leader slowly ambles away, to wherever he goes after this confusing song, or what I consider music to be. Complete darkness envelops the cave as the silent period of sleep begins, where I merely observe the lack of life and activity for countless moments.
The Earth has been troubled of late.
Rumbles from deep beneath me come in indiscriminate tremors, frightening the little ones and disturbing their elders. Even the big two-leg has come out his hole, and goes in and out of the tunnels, as if he is looking for the cause. But the source is far below me, I can feel that much. Almost directly below, for that matter. It moves, a phantom that never appears in the same spot twice. The stones below mutter of a fearsome monster, a living rock that dives deep into the mother Earth. Maybe living isn't the right word, all rock is living. A moving rock. Must be fun to be one of those, I’d love to get out and roll around every once in awhile. After a few years you get to know one spot pretty darn good. The smaller stones talk about how the cavern is so different than when they were drug up here. Its quite boring honestly, talking about how the tunnel over there got wider, and how the one flood forced a new tunnel over there. I much prefer to watch the scurrying little creatures go about their daily routine.
But today, the routine is definitely different. The creatures, for whatever reason, have refused to go down one tunnel. The pebbles are screeching “Something is coming!” and the larger boulders cower in place. The cavern inhabitants seem to be blissfully unaware of the racket those pebbles are causing. They are just so loud and childlike! One would think the smaller you get, the wiser due to your age. But no, whenever a rock gets chopped up into something lesser, they come back as their more immature selves. I dread possibly growing smaller one day.
As loud as the screaming was before, it seems to be noticeably absent as another round of vibrations signal the movement of the mysterious object that has the rocks so afraid. However unlike the many times before, it seems that the Earth’s shudders grow larger. When it ends, and my subjects have returned to their operations somewhat more timidly, the voices in the cavern have changed from screams to wails of sorrow. The pebbles, who only a short while ago were decreeing their end was near, have apparently disappeared. Whether reduced to a fine dust or moved far away, none can be sure. I am just glad it stopped, they were so annoying. In response to my joy at the quiet, a wholly eerie wail erupts from seemingly all the tunnels at once, gravelly and extremely depressed. All the beings cowering in the spacious home cavern seem very upset by this sound, desperately attempting to to cover what can only act as ears. Not having ears or appendages, I am forced to listen as it continues for hours.
For days, the screech comes and goes, along with the now almost continuous vibrations that seem to be circling below, far closer than before. It can be quite unnerving, unable to see what is causing these disturbances around me. The subjects have not left the home cavern for days now, and the troughs, normally overflowing with rust-red stones, are now half emptied. But the creatures appear too afraid to leave the safety of their hollowed-out home. And any food source that hailed from near the cavern was long since mined out, or the scurrying beings would be there and not cowering in fear. The only hint of normality in their lives has become the evening prayer as I've now come to think of it. Ever since these events began their song is louder, more pronounced. It has a previously absent sense of urgency or desperation. Its like they expect the smaller stones and myself to solve the problem merely by glowing.
As the little ones that encircle me slumber, I am kept awake by the constant grumbling. There are no irritating cries from the beast at the moment, which I quite like. And all the rocks have finally given up complaining about the end of life, which means less noise from them. Such whiners.
As I divert my attention away from my wards, a motion catches my vision. All parts of my crystalline body can 'see,' however my vision focused on this singular point. At once the moving vibrations increase tenfold, a thunderous roar echoing through the spacious hall. Something breaches the floor of a distant tunnel, and begins snaking towards the cavern. Its thick silvery hide reflects the dark grey walls of the tunnel as it slithers ever closer to me. Its maw grinds the last of the stone that was in its way. I gaze in awe and fear at the tormentor of the cavern. Long and metal, its tapered crystalline body almost glides along the cracked dusty floor almost towards me.
As the small being flee to the caverns opposite the moving terror, the large one appears from his secluded home to offer a resounding roar at the aggressive intruder. Mouth set in a raging snarl, he charges. His horn gleams in the low light as it strikes the block shaped serpent, the screech and recoil of the enemy doing little to disrupt the fear all see within the menacing form. Its body continues to wriggle its way into the cavern, with no end in sight. With a motion that seemed unnaturally fast given its size, the evil being changes its position, placing much of its body to encircle the two legged creature. The looping coil quickly begins to contract, locking the smaller being into a deadly bind. The protector’s face morphs from anger & rage into one of pain and suffering as the coils creep tighter. The sound of metal against metal is heard, the metal snake grating its plating against the armor of its seemingly outmatched competitor.
When the defender seems out of breath, a swarm of activity erupts from the shadows.
The smaller beings leap from their hiding places, attaching themselves to the bulk of the serpentine body and begin attempting to chew their way through the hard exterior carapace of their tormentor. Their larger brethren begin tackling the snake, horns bashing and chipping away. But as they begin their desperate assault, the snakelike being loosens its grip and sends them all flying with a whip-like motion. Small scurrying critters litter the floor, a few hitting me with significant force to knock me over. My view of the crazy battle now looks like I am laying down, taking a nap midst the disorganized chaos. Of course, sleep would be impossible at this moment. The pack leader throws a powerful punch at the steel serpent, connecting and sending the upper portion flying away from it. And by away from it, I mean directly in my direction. With a resounding crash, my crystalline form is reduced to nothing but shiny splinters among the debris-covered ground, and I fade into nothingness...
From the depths of fog enveloping my mind, images begin to appear in my field of vision. For some reason, I can now only see in one direction. And somehow, I can move! My appendages are held in place, but the feeling of even twitching a single claw is exhilarating. In front of me is a clear covering, from which I can now see movement. Beings, much larger than what I remember, looking through the cover at me. As one shows surprise on their face, the cover disappears from view, and a leathery voice asks “How are you feeling?”
Can I talk? I try to make a sentence flow from my mouth, but all I get out is “Where?”
The attendant nods. “You have all been out for a long time, but welcome back to life. The Two hundred and fifty three year voyage is over, we've finally reached our destination. You see it, and its dominant life form on the screen there.”
As I look, I see a blue and green world, overcast with white particles. As my eyes trace the separation of the many land masses, something on the other side of the screen catches my eye. The dominant life form is a long tapered cylinder, marked by spikes from the side of its silver hide. The face is a toothy evil grin, with eyes that burn into my very central mind.
It is the monster that haunted my endless nightmare