Epic

Within beams of sun, the little boy monk scrubbed hard at the murals of the temple with wet rag fragments of discarded monk robes. The mural was expansive, reaching from floor to ceiling, from eastern wall to western wall, depicting ancient wisdom and ancient writing that the little monk couldn’t quite yet understand, but scrubbed at anyways with respect. The mural itself was old, ruins really, and as he scrubbed away a rather conspicuous chunk broke off, crumbling onto the floor.

He panicked, picked up the pieces, and then panicked more when he saw important-looking writing on their surfaces. Fitting two of the largest ones together as best as possible, he tried inserting them into the crack on the wall, then stopped and peered into its crevice. The hole, though subtle, penetrated surprisingly deep.

At the very end of its natural scope was nothing, initial darkness, almost enough to lose the boy’s interest. As he almost backed away, the darkness opened, unveiling a gray eye staring back from the other side of somewhere, staring then blinking, either angry or stern, before disappearing into a flood of white that overwhelmed both fear and curiosity. The muffled sounds of stomping footsteps could be heard.

When his sight adjusted, he peered again, into a place not his own. There was an ineffectual concrete building in an overcast open courtyard. A masculine parade of the tepid living appeared, marching by, filled with faceless carriers of rifles and supremacy and to a lesser extent, mutations in their cells. Some gripped flags without the wind to unfurl them. Immediately after came the elephants, massive scarring behemoths with sharpened tusks augmented with spears ridden by the prideful, lucky few. Something galloped by nearby, blocking the peephole momentarily, but there could be heard a deep, guttural groaning that drowned out the marching, bellowing out discipline. Other groans responded immediately.

Then, came the buzzing the deafening unforgiving unnatural buzzing coming from several sources within that horrifying place, that land of strangers and concrete and invention, and the little monk knew then that he had to warn his home. As he wretched himself from the wall and turned tail to run, his reality collapsed, his temple’s lone exit fell beneath crumbling beams and rocks. He dodged as much of the debris as he could, weaving until he found himself cowering beneath the temple’s protector, an inanimate brass statue of master in its prime meditating years. Now he collapsed beneath it, attempting his own meditation, vaguely ignoring the remaining daylight as it became expunged from the temple’s decomposing sanctity.

He prayed for a miracle, a simple way of warning others of what was behind the mural. He prayed hard for a clever way to escape his imminent collapse, to exist long enough to pass on his important message. And so then, like most miracles, something or someone responded.

***

A clique of friends loitered in a kitchen on an afternoon, sipping sodas, deciding. Somebody suggested bowling, and garnered enough half-hearted agreement for a tentative plan to form. That same somebody finished up his drink, only to notice something peculiar.

“Watch out, they’re coming.” read the can’s inside bottom. The text was written where a promotional code was supposed to be.

“That’s weird.” He shrugged and navigated it towards the garbage, but an arm shot out and blocked him. With a stern and angry stare she pointed at the recycling bin.

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