The Cosmos is binary, composed of the Light’s energy and matter; and the Dark’s gravity and time. I’ve known this since the creation of the Titans. But today, I came face-to-face with a Darkness in a very personal and up-close way…a way that could end me.
The universe is a living thing, hoping, fearing, exalting, grieving, slowly evolving to self-awareness. It’s beautiful in its manifestation, but it’s often a violent process, as faster, stronger life consumes slower prey. In time, these predators themselves become prey. Intelligence rides this churn as it seeks to jump the hurdle past only being used to eat and mate, to dare ask the question, “Why?”
I know these things because I am Hyperion, the Titan of Light. When the universe awoke in an explosion of primordial light and darkness, Chaos begat Primordials, who gave way to Titans in a cycle of dog eats dog…until a bigger dog evolves. For Titans, that bigger dog was our children, the Olympians, who vanquished and imprisoned us.
This cycle may seem cruel, but it’s the same process that births sapient civilizations. The most long-lived and successful are those civilizations that discover their divine light. And not only am I the god of that light, but of the full electromagnetic spectrum—including sound and the electrochemical synapses in the brains of intelligent life. This allows me to manipulate the minds of all thinking beings.
And at this moment, in an unassuming recording studio, I am nudging humanity’s march towards its own divinity. My tools are music and mind control.
Sitting at a soundboard are an engineer, a sound tech, and a producer. A singing artist fiddles with a microphone behind a glass wall that separates the sound stage from the production crew. I look on from a sofa in a darkened corner. On monitors, a group of hangers-on party in a smoky green room. Most of them are part of the recording artist’s posse, the inevitable pack that orbits around any rising artist’s alpha dog aura.
As the music starts, the party quiets, and the revelers drop into an almost hypnotic trance.
Like a songbird in a glass box, a beautiful woman begins to sing softly behind the transparent barrier between her and the crew on the soundboard.
Her musical accompaniment is likewise soft but insistent, a slowly swirling, building vortex like a tornado on a flat Kansas plain. The spinning gray musical cyclone builds and gains power. Its dark cloud coming to fiery life as it is inexorably lit by the fire of a setting sun. As this happens, she croons ethereal dulcet tones.
“I’m hiding in Time
I’m hiding in Space
If you look to the sky
Then you might glimpse my face…
I am the hunger
The tooth and the claw
The black hole that’s spindle
And Reclaimer’s maw”
Until this moment, the spinning cyclone of music has been mostly composed of strings and woodwinds, but as the musical tension achingly builds on her words, so do the listeners’ expectations—until, like a clap of thunder, the bass-line drops.
It’s a round-edged, almost gentle, sonic detonation, a sound more felt than heard. For the barest instant, it freezes every mortal in the studio. Unbeknownst to them, I am programming electromagnetic mind control code directly into the recording, a command that says to them, Listen.
I call this first step the A.E.O.M. (pronounced “ay-OM”), for All-Eyes-On-Me. That momentary freeze acknowledges to me they are indeed listening and are ready for the next commands, Accept, and then Execute.
The god-encoded music scrambles for purchase inside the minds of the listening humans. They are powerless as they move to the slow, irresistible beat. I make them mentally and emotionally open to the music…and to the subliminal programming I am laying underneath it.
My music’s effect on listeners has not escaped the notice of more sensitive and observant mortals. One music reviewer has likened the music produced by my company, Olympus Lighthouse Productions, to “sonic crack.”
As an inside joke, a production team member placed underneath the recording session light a sticker that says, Trap House. It’s slang for a crack house where users get trapped. None suspect the truth of that sticker. I’ve never been averse to employing mind control whenever I felt humanity needed a little push.
My mind control worm writes brain connections in the listeners. My code hides beneath the coupling of throbbing Sub-Saharan African bass rhythms and the lilting woodwinds of an Arabian night.
Things are going as planned when, out of nowhere, I get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. This is worrying. I am a god draped in a suit of mortal flesh. Gods don’t get sick and I don’t let my mortal skin suit get sick, either.
As I ponder this disturbing development, a shadow forms on the door. As it does, time stops. Every person in the studio becomes still as a statue. Even the air is not moving.
The shadow on the door is vaguely humanoid in form, and so black that it’s not even the color black, but an absence of light. It’s as if a silhouette of nothingness is cut from reality.
Well, that’s new, I think.
I’ve been around for millennia and have encountered nothing new in a very long time. I try to wrap my head around this situation, muttering, “What the—”
Suddenly, it’s inside the studio.
My godly perception doesn’t miss the fact that as the cutout silhouette gets closer—now halfway between me and the studio door—its outline sharpens. It’s definitely human and somehow familiar. Then it clicks. The interloper is exactly my height and build, and its outline suggests it’s wearing my clothes!
Now it’s in my face, less than two feet from me.
Its advance from the surface of the studio door to me takes less than two seconds. It takes no actual steps to get to me. It simply stops being where it was and suddenly becomes where it is—from door to halfway point to me.
I sense no electromagnetic energy from my flat cutout doppelgänger. But, when I raise my hand to touch its surface, it raises its hand, palm out, as if to warn off my intended encroachment on its personal space. I’m a god, so deterrence is not something that I am used to taking seriously. I push.
However, I am deterred. Not for lack of trying, mind you, but as my hand nears the cutout, I encounter resistance. The harder I push, the stronger the resistance becomes, until my hand comes to a dead stop. Not only is my mortal flesh unable to move any closer to the intruder, it blocks my godly essence as well. Interesting.
Right now, I’m pushing with a force that would put my hand through a cinderblock wall, but it’s not moving any closer to the intruder. I push harder. I’m pushing so hard that the hand-shaped glow of my godly essence protrudes from my hand a few millimeters.
To add insult, the cutout man flicks his wrist like someone shooing away a fly and I fall backward as the wall behind me becomes the floor. Well, the floor for me, as the rest of the world seems to maintain its original orientation. I get the briefest moment to marvel at the studio and its occupants oriented at a 90-degree angle from me, when I slam into the back wall—well, my floor now—at terminal velocity. I go from a standstill to over a hundred miles an hour in an instant to crash against my new personal floor, the back wall of the studio. What’s worse, I’m pinned as if Atlas himself is sitting on my chest.
Meanwhile, the silhouette creature has flickered to a laptop next to the soundboard. Its hand hovers a foot over the keyboard as a browser opens and keys click-clack, slowly at first, then faster and faster until they become a blur. Heatwaves rise from the laptop as the screen displays a dizzying array of pages. It’s as if the cutout being is looking for something.
The laptop burns out. Then, just like that, the cutout creature is gone.
In an instant, everything reorients back to normal for me as the world comes back to life in a rush of sound and motion. The engineer, Matias, glances at me curiously and asks, “What you doin’ over there, jefe? That wall need some holdin’ up?”
I don’t want to answer him. I don’t want to talk to anyone. I need to think. I’m spared having to answer him when his forearm slides back against the burnt-out laptop.
“Aiieee! That’s hot,” he screams.
“The battery’s going to blow,” I exclaim, sensing this opportunity is my excuse to duck out. I grab the laptop and dump it into a nearby wastebasket. Then with the wastebasket in hand, I make for the door, shouting over my shoulder, “I’ll take this to the garage, just in case.”
“Did he say garage? Hey man, my car’s in the garage,” says Matias, concerned.
“I’m not going to put it anywhere near your new Maserati, Matty,” I say.
“I love that car, man, so please—” Matias’s plaintive request cut’s off mid-sentence as the heavy studio door closes behind me.
As I hurry down the hall, wastebasket in hand, my mind is awhirl with questions. What was that thing? How did it manipulate time and gravity like that?But, the most concerning question is, How do I stop it if—no, when—it comes back?