Reddit Writing Prompt #6: I Saw The Sign

[WP] For the last 40 years, popular music charts have been controlled by a Nostradamus computer, pushing songs that predict the future to the top of the charts. The prophecy of your favorite childhood song is now coming true. – WhiteGuyFly

The dark waves rolled beneath the ship like the heartbeat of the world. It was a beautiful, cloudless night, and it made the captain feel like he was alone in the world, floating in the middle of the ocean in his fishing boat. It had been his home for thirty years, crewed by an ever-changing assortment of men who sought hard work upon the sea.

They had never been this far from the coast, however. In fact, it was literally impossible to be any further from a coast than they were at that moment. They were located at the oceanic ‘pole of inaccessibility’, the single point in the seven seas that was the farthest from any coastline at all. The southern reaches of the Pacific ocean, almost twenty five hundred kilometers from dry land.

The captain had asked his strange client why they were there, but no answers were given.

The man – who claimed to be named “Mister John Smith”, which was almost certainly not his name – was not the kind of person who would stick out of a crowd. He was so mind-bogglingly plain looking that it was hard for the captain to really remember what he looked like. He was very odd, well-spoken but quiet, but he was rich and had paid well to be brought to this location on this moonless night.

“It was a night like this when I saw it,” the man said, standing on the prow of the ship and staring at the sky. The captain stood behind him, arms wrapped around himself to guard from the chill. ‘Mister Smith’ didn’t seem bothered by it.

“Saw what?” the captain asked.

“The sign,” was the cryptic answer. “I saw the sign, and it opened up my eyes.” He wasn’t blinking as he stared at the sky, as if he didn’t want to miss a moment of whatever he was looking for. “I saw the sign,” he whispered.

“You are a creepy bastard,” the captain wanted to say, but a man who is being paid five million American dollars is not a man who is likely to be rude to the man signing the check.

“It was in an old book, a gift from a mad uncle,” the man continued. “I read its ancient pages, and I understood. Life is so… demanding, without understanding. But I saw the sign, and it opened up my eyes, I saw the sign.”

“Uh-huh,” the captain said, wondering if anybody would care if he pushed ‘Mister Smith’ into the ocean and sailed away. There was something wrong about the man, and the stars-

They had never looked like that before. So subtly wrong. But so – so right.

“No one’s gonna drag you up, to get into the light where you belong,” ‘Smith’ said, and he looked at the captain with empty eyes that seemed like they could see through eternity. “But where do you belong?”

“I don’t-”

The captain fell silent, as he finally noticed that something was missing. The boat was completely still, floating on a waveless sea that stretched to the horizon like a plane of dark glass. Shallow ripples from the bobbing motion of the boat were the only signs of motion on the silent water. ‘Smith’ gripped the railing, staring down into the black waters.

“Under the pale moon,” he said to the deep sea, “for so many years, I’ve wondered who you are.”

Suddenly, there was motion. Not fifty meters away, the sea began to stretch upwards, like something was rising from the ocean-

It broke the water like a dark needle, the tip of a curling spire with three points that twisted like writhing, overlapping snakes-

“How can a thing like you bring me joy!” ‘Smith’ screamed, holding his arms out like a prophet bidding the sea to split. “Under the pale moon, where I see a lot of stars, is enough, enough!”

More spires rose, growing into looming towers, their edges too sharp, angles too large-

“I saw the sign!” ‘Smith’ sang. “And it opened up my eyes, I saw the sign! Life is demanding, without understanding!”

Blood bubbled from the captain’s eyes as the impossible city boiled his fragile mind. He screamed, clawing at his face, mind shattering at the wrongness of the structures rising from the deeps. “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn,” Smith gargled. “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!”

“R’lyeh will soon rise up! Rise into the light, where it belongs!” the captain screamed, words howling from what was left in his soul.

A horrible roar split the world. Through useless eyes, the captain saw a dead god awaken from his slumber, and scream at the world from a terrible mouth. “But where do we belong?” the captain cried, and his last vestiges of sanity burned away.

“I saw the sign,” chanted he and the man once called Smith. “I saw the sign, I saw the sign…”

The song echoed across the universe, from a small, burning point of light, covered with insignificant beings who believed they were the center of all existence. They burned as they learned the horrible truth, crushed under the footsteps of unknowable gods.

And when it was over, the world spun through the void as it always had, and the stars twinkled overhead without a care for the beings below.

One thought on “Reddit Writing Prompt #6: I Saw The Sign

  1. I’m afraid you’re right, Stephen! I really don’t get this. But regardless of the meaning, there’s a lot of writing and imagery that I really like and would love to be able to produce myself. I remain in awe of your vivid imagination and the apparent ease and fluency of your writing. Some time you’ll have to explain this story to your aged but admiring grandmother.Who knows, I may eventually get it!


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