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Rated: E · Fiction · Horror/Scary · #2262239
The tale of he who wished to gaze upon the Great Devourer
A man of science, that is who he was. No person of good standing would ever question that fact. After all, who else would spend weeks at the tip of the tallest tower staring into glass to see things you could only imagine in your dreams. The things so small they travel the equivalent of a thousand miles in every sneeze and so large that the horizon isn't big enough to capture the image. Indeed, this was the stuff of fairy tales, but Lucidius Cromwell was always the first to say nay.

I'll bet you can picture him scuttled away from the rest of humanity. His only friends were the insects he stored away in drawers. Look at them now, the mottled carapace and the luminous spread wings of a moth captured in flight. Look at the razor edge of the mantid's arms strung like a coil and the mirrored eye of a swollen weevil. They are fifty years old and yet untouched by the passing hour.
The man is just like them, hunched over and covered in white garments that could pass as the untouched appendage of a destitute butterfly. It's there that he writes his greatest manuscript, framed by the light of a dying candle. It flickers and sputters by the open window from the tallest tower.

Come with us as we frolic with the children beneath Babel Tower. They are looking up at that window now, and they see the distorted shadows of Dr. Cromwell. The children are the ones who spread the rumors.

"Hey, did you hear?" They whisper in the shadows. "He is more beast than man."

Indeed, he was not a social figure, and months would pass before showing his face to those below. He always preferred the company of his insects. They were not the ones who spread rumors, and nor would they abandon him. Listen to the sickening crunch as another pin slips through the back of a molting beetle.

"So beautiful." He would say, pulling back the folds of a silken cocoon to capture the image of caterpillars in metamorphosis. "We are much alike." That's what he thought.

Humanity was forever caught on the verge of evolution but never able to take the next steps. After all, some species of caterpillar must experience harsh cold to complete their metamorphosis. Without it, they never emerge from their cocoons save for the assistance of a moon-polished scalpel.

Dr. Cromwell was to be that instrument, so he turned his attention to the northern star.

To the people beneath babel tower, it's called Polaris. To the people across the western sea, it's called saint Iranol. To Dr. Cromwell, it's called God. You are all mistaken; it's called the Great Devourer.

Ever has man used that star as a guide for their journeys. We remember when young Isabelle escaped the whispering wood by following its light and when the captain of the arbor gold braved the eye of Cain by following that cloud-piercing torch. Is it any surprise that wonder turned to worship?

"Follow God's light, and you will never be left astray." That's what they say. But, truly, do they speak of Polaris? So, we tell you a warning now; not everything comes from God.

"If only I could gaze upon you, the real you." Dr. Cromwell would say.

Surely to look upon God was the next step in man's evolution. However, much like a cocoon, you must peel back the layers to see the caterpillar.

The observatory was his most incredible creation. At the top of Babel Tower, he constructed a brass tube filled with glass to extend the reach of man's sight. Look at the shimmering structure, which flashes like gold and reaches the heavens like a wall of clouds breaking upon the uppermost layer flat like a pan. It is a marvel of the modern world and characteristic of the man who built it, bringing awe and confusion.

"Tonight, I will finally look upon you." He said, wiping a smudge off the lens. "Tonight, I will break free from this cocoon."

It is always on the winter solstice when Polaris shines the brightest. Some say it is when God smiles down upon the world. Some say it is when a saint is born. Some say it is when souls ascend to heaven. We say dinner is served.

Dr. Cromwell used the instrument at babel tower to gaze upon Polaris the night of the winter solstice. It worked as he had intended. From the glass pulpit, he saw many things. Craters, deeper than Faulcetti's gorge upon the moon. Mountains taller than God's finger on a distant pale planet, and a great red eye swirling about the surface of a yellow giant many millions of miles away. Yet, none drew more attention than when he gazed upon saint Iranol.

By peeling back the layers of far radiance, Dr. Cromwell was given a glimpse of the largest of all Leviathans. From a distance so great no earthly measurement can properly scale, the Northern star didn't glitter but quivered like a sickly heart. Upon its pale flesh were a thousand mouths that howled like wolves bound together in crude stitchery. Listen to its wails like a distant siren or the moaning wind before a terrible storm.

"I can see you!" Dr. Cromwell cried as the Leviathan gnashed a million teeth together in a twisted symphony of snapping crickets.

Suddenly, from the shadows came a dozen arms which slithered crawled, and the surface of its pallid hide rose and burst open like blisters of teeth and hair. Soon, a million eyes sprang forth from its wounds, twisting about like marbles in a cup until each one settled upon Dr. Cromwell.

"No! No!" He screamed, trying to pull away from the instrument, but he couldn't move his hands frozen fast upon the bronze tube as a nightmare unfolded.

From beneath its pale flesh spilled forth a gaping maw like guts from a slaughtered pig. Can you smell its breadth, metallic and fiery, like strong liquor, smelling salts or gasoline? The town beneath Babel tower certainly could, and no one slept a wink, for the Doctor's screams shook the very Earth.

Months would pass before anyone would see Dr. Cromwell again. His home was cursed after all, and no adult would brave ascending the tower. The kids only did it as a dare, and when that young man pushed open that creaking door at the top of Babel Tower, he saw a bare husk of a once-proud intellectual. In his place was left a drooling imbecile who ate beetles and drank rainwater from the rafters.

"Hunnngry!" He shouted at the boy who ran for his life, slamming the door behind him.

Not a measurable ounce of Dr. Cromwell’s soul remained, as is for all who gaze upon the one who reaps the harvest.


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