By Brent Lambert (Art by Morgan Osburn)
Dimensions can bleed. Seemed a foolish notion to consider before now, but staring into the undefined space between universes lets me see it for myself. The entity my Deity Collective forces me to chase breaks entire damn universes. My breath quickens at the star stuff and dark matter oozing out of torn, decaying universal filaments. So much like a ripped cell, vomiting into a waiting void.
Previous failed hunters claim if you put your ear to the glass, you can hear the screams of a billion dying worlds. Hyperbole and impossible. Sound doesn’t exist where we are. Noise, matter, light are all products of creation. What we travel in is the space between it. I wonder if the void will allow the anomaly of our existence to stand. I should stop applying sentience to what is endless.
The colors roil across my view and mesmerize me. My home dimension was a place of gray and white. I have seen such wonders since embarking on this mission chasing the undefined. There is a painful beauty to all the destruction being caused.
But tattered universes cannot hold my attention forever.
“ADA what biological percentage were we looking at in Dimensions 3334A and PL993?”
<4.4% and 3.24%, sir.> the A.I. speaks.
Trillions upon trillions of life forms lost. And by all accounts, it looks like the entity is heading for a 20% universe. It’ll be a catastrophic loss of biologic life on the multiverse scale. “ADA, do any lifeforms exceed a Class 6 technology scale?”
<.004% of lifeforms in both dimensions.>
So it’s possible that some beings were able to escape the destruction. The thought doesn’t give me a great deal of comfort when considering the scale. Worlds, galaxies and all the space separating them make me feel like a speck of dust trying to chase down a star. This entity is beyond powerful and the Collective believes in their divine arrogance that it can be stopped. The numbers. The scale. It feels like sand sliding between unprepared fingers. Even the metaphors feel inadequate against the massiveness of the task given me. What made them think I was ready to take on something feeding on infinity?
None of the Class 6 lifeforms see us. A small blessing, as alien communication often turns perplexing or violent. Creation nurses itself on violence.
<Incoming interface from The Collective.>
I make my way across the ship to a holographic conference of raging, floating faces. Their questions pull the usual, mundane answers out of me.
Why couldn’t you stop it? It moves too fast.
When are you going to use the weapon? We haven’t proven it works.
How many lost? (at least this question is respectable) Too many to count.
The Collective is a thousand universes away, tucked away safely in the bunker of some methane world, guarded by a million weaponized satellites, each residing even further in their own pocket dimensions. They have no concept of what we’re dealing with out here. A mere brush of the unfathomable thing is enough to destabilize the entire dimension. This is beyond gods even and we’re just too stupid to realize it.
<Analysis of the entity afterburn is complete.>
ADA sometimes feels like the only reliable thing surrounding this entire venture. The Godspark’s cold, objectivity provides a grounding wisdom in madness. This would be the first speck of the destroyer ready to be analyzed. Trillions. Can something ADA found help save them? The thought makes me heady as I go to the ship’s central worship station. Even a spark of a god must be properly received. The cold of it never ceases to shock me. The samples gathered from the entity’s rampages have to be kept as cold as the void they were drawn from. My nanosuit keeps my biological processes going as I deal with the extreme temperature.
“ADA, tell me what you’ve found.”
<There are radio signals emitting from the pre-nebulas left behind by the entity. I have traced those signals by running dimensional attunement analysis on them. There are three possible dimensional candidates for the origin of these signals. Dimensions ARR998, XU11199902 and DJT0000000.>
Those dimensions were territory under the domain of The Deity Collective. A thousand possibilities run through my head in an instant, but I draw one conclusion. The entity, the passion for its pursuit, the weapon that might destroy it. All of it comes from the gods commanding my hunt. “ADA, how many Collective worship parameters and protocols are you able to access?”
<Please make your request more specific.>
“Can you find out what connection the Collective has to the entity we’ve been pursuing?”
Time really doesn’t matter out here in the edges of creation, but I quickly grow impatient.
<Your query has yielded multiple intercessions and divine scriptology restricted to me. One decree from The Deity Collective did make note of a project to perform universal excavation. I tend to avoid personal conjecture, but there does seem to be a connection.>
Of course there is. This entity is our fault, Our need to expand and control has brought about this maelstrom of destruction. We have made dimensions bleed.
“ADA, send this information to all of the survivor races that we’ve encountered thus far. They may find the connections interesting.”
Perhaps it is time we bleed too.
Comic books, SFF and good cooking are the essential elements of Brent Lambert. A full-fledged military brat, he is consistently struck by wanderlust and has a keen sense of things never really being permanent. A writer with an insurmountable TBR list, he remains forever determined to conquer it. His love of reading and writing sprung from a childhood need to place permanence somewhere in his life and nothing quite lasts like a good story.
(Artist) Morgan Osburn is currently a Senior at Randolph College, pursuing multiple degrees: BFA in Studio, BA in Art History, and a minor in Religious Studies. She works primarily in printmaking, monotyping and etching, as well as oil painting, and mixed media, incorporating elements of drawing, painting, and collaged found materials. Her art has been published in various journals and catalogs, most recently Hail! Muse. She has art on permanent display at Randolph College, and has art on temporary display at the Conway Student Art Corner, and in the Community Art Display at Menchie’s in Charlotte, NC. After undergrad, she hopes to attend graduate school in order to pursue her MFA in Studio Art.
Artist's Statement, "Boundaries" Monoprint, 8x6.5 inches, 2017:
My work generally can be identified by its juxtaposition of naturalistic colors and forms, with brightly colored abstracted imagery and fluid lines. My process for printmaking focuses on creating differences in texture and layering them with my stencils made from mylar. I use steel wool, and ghost printing to achieve unique effects on my plates, and even print my etching plates underneath monotyping. Painting for me begins by building layers of color, such as natural browns and maroons shaded with hues of blue, yellow ochre, and crimson. Depth is created through layering abstracted forms, generally with a downward propulsion of movement. I prefer to work in series because I find that I can more efficiently impart my intent through multiple iterations of similar compositions, colors, and imagery.
I find that my painting and printmaking planning processes begin similarly, which is through a close study of my sketchbooks collaged with images and notes of research into Biological and Biblical imagery, Western religious imagery, specifically from the 12th-16th centuries, and scientific prints. My sketchbooks have images of cellular and anatomical images, assumptions of the Virgin, depictions of God and figures with halos, because I love organic circles, specifically images of halos, cells, eyes, breasts, crowns, globes, and celestial orbs. I want my work to convey a mystical, spiritual mood through its color and abstract imagery. The titles of my works are meant to reveal the inspiration or thought process behind each series. My study of art history and religious studies has undoubtably influenced my artwork, as has my travels while studying abroad in Italy.