The Pain of Ages
Josiah woke to another bout of intense pain in his stomach, the third such event in as little as a week. Rolling from the bed, he lumbered across the cabin and stood over the chamber pot, hands gripping the rim as he waited for the inevitable torrent of vomit. Spots danced before his eyes as the pain intensified, his stomach growling loudly as if something alive were fighting from within. Gritting his teeth, he dropped to his knees and let out a whimper as another wave of pain rocked through him.
“Joe? Are you sick again?” His wife asked.
“It’s nothing Kira, go back to bed.” Joe groused, ignoring his fair skinned wife.
“Oh Joe, you’re as pale as a ghost! Let me get you some water…” She said, ignoring his command, heading to the kitchen.
Feeling a surge come up from his stomach, Josiah opened his mouth and emptied the contents of his stomach into the brass pot, heaving. The salty aftertaste was hardly appealing, and the way his tongue scraped over his cracked molars, which throbbed in agony, didn’t help any. Shuddering as his body suddenly felt cold, he heaved up gouts of bile into the chamber pot, this time growling as he did so.
Looking into the chamber pot, he was surprised he could make out the normally indistinct chunks so clearly in the darkness of his room. Sitting in the pool of blackened goo was a large slab of dark meat, with a tube running up the side of it.
“Damn it all to Hell!” He cursed, letting his head droop slightly. With shaking hands, he pushed himself to his feet, wobbling as he walked towards the door leading to the rest of the cabin. Stopping to take hold of his father’s old hickory cane, he leaned on it to try and steady his movement.
Shuffling down the hall as his bones throbbed angrily, Josiah coughed into his hand darkened bile, wiping it on the wall as he went. His head swam and stars lined the sides of his vision.
Walking around the corner, Kira almost bumped into Josiah, letting out a startled cry as she saw him. “Oh my god Joe, you’re… you’re covered in blood!”
“I know…” He grumbled, staring at her with heavy eyes.
“We have to get you a doctor, I don’t care that it’s the middle of the night! Get your coat, let’s get goi-” She cried before falling beneath the heavy blow of the hickory cane, the glass of water shattering on the hardwood floor as she slumped unconscious. Breathing heavily, Josiah knelt down and grabbed one of her feet before limping out of the house into the snowstorm, a trail of blood trailing behind him.
With leaden limbs, Josiah dragged her slowly into the woods surrounding his home, moving steadily towards an all too familiar cave.
Finally leaving the angry storm as he crawled into the narrow cave, Josiah blinked wearily as he stooped to pick up his wife. Slowly, he descended into the bowels of the cave, his frostbitten feet crunching over loose stones and dirt as he made his way to a large central chamber.
Josiah needed no light to know what was here. He’d never needed light… he could hear it slither in the darkness on the far side of the chamber; hear it shifting its weight as it studied him.
“I brought another one,” Josiah grunted, moving forward until the long stone altar came into view. Even in the pitch darkness, he could make out the skulls embedded into the stone, and the alien script carved into the smooth surface of the green stone. Laying Kira down gently Josiah backed away a few feet. “Please… make the pain go away…”
A low growl, unlike anything else heard in nature, was the only response he was given. The sound of slickened movement, of something heavy and large moving across the cavern, grew louder as it came closer to the altar, and Josiah. Josiah closed his eyes, as he knew to look upon this thing… this alien thing, would only bring madness and despair.
That was how his father had gone, before his mother had offered him the same way that Josiah was offering his wife. The same way that she had tried to offer Josiah. Josiah, despite the wracking agony he was in, smiled at the memory of how he had dragged his mother’s body here all those years ago, and offered her to it in return for the one thing it truly had an abundance of.
Josiah sighed as he felt a slimy tendril touch his forehead, wincing only slightly as a barbed suction cup scraped his brow before sinking into his skull. The numbed flesh offered little resistance to the intruding prong, and Josiah shuddered in orgasmic bliss when he felt the pain in his stomach and bones begin to vanish. Images of starless skies and dark buildings, impossibly shaped with angles that could not be crafted by human hands, flooded his mind as Josiah could make out the distant sound of crunching bones and tearing meat, the splatter of blood onto the cavern floor.
No, he was too busy gazing in wonder at the dread city that haunted his dreams, the tall structures and vast pyramids made of the same green stone as the altar. He was lost in time, as his body grew stronger, his grey hairs turning blonde, his few wrinkles growing smooth. Eyes that were once clouded cleared up enough to view the creature before him. He quickly closed his eyes as he continued to take in the trade that he had made with it, the trade he’d done over and over again the past two centuries.
Life for life. A living sacrifice for more time.
As the sucker slowly pulled away from Josiah’s brow, taking away the vivid imagery of the alien landscape, Josiah was left with only one coherent thought, a thought not his own.