Judgement

A single note of a horn sounded and all across the universe it was heard. On the land and in the sky, across the planets and solar systems, the sound was clear and sharp. And on hearing that single note, every mortal died.

 

Except one. A man watched as the ship’s captain and crew collapsed in unison, their life force gone from their bodies. They slumped over the control consoles in front of them, but fortunately did not activate any unwanted systems, nor change the ship’s intended course.

Daniel, the lone survivor, ignored most of the fallen and made his way to the captain’s desk. He shifted the dead body of the veteran from his seat and dumped him carefully, albeit unceremoniously, on the floor of the bridge.

He brought up the holographic monitor display and, after double-checking the major ship systems were still intact, brought up the viewing screen.

It flickered into being, covering the entire front end of the bridge and provided a view of the vast tracks of space ahead of the ship.

Daniel seated himself and tested the swivel action of the chair whilst he waited for something to happen. The rest of the bridge, and indeed the rest of the ship, remained silent. The dead bodies lulled on the floor as though a sudden bout of intense apathy had struck them. A glance at the internal structure of the ship, accessed by the damage report system, revealed it to be a cruise liner equipped with saunas, spas and restaurants.

He chuckled briefly to himself as he imagined the dinner guests who would have fallen face first into their food. It was a dark humour that gripped him, but he allowed it to, desperate for any level of comedy in these situations.

A warning beacon blazed around the ship and a targeting reticule appeared on the viewing screen indicating an approaching object. The ship’s onboard computers worked rapidly, identifying the size and the shape of the object, its composite materials and trajectory.

Daniel zoomed the screen in to see the approaching comet. According to the computer systems the comet was projected as passing by the spaceship at a safe distance and would impact into the planet behind him within thirty minutes.

The sophisticated computer was right and as the comet passed by he pressed a button to change the viewing window and reveal the scene behind him. The comet, with a blue tail streaming behind it, descended to the planet, which Daniel surmised the ship must have launched from. The celestial object burned fiercely as it entered the planet’s atmosphere and shortly afterwards was engulfed in a fiery black ash cloud as it impacted. The darkness drifted across the globe and the uncountable billions of people that must have inhabited it were consumed.

But they were already dead, thought Daniel shrugging to himself. The computer flashed another warning as it identified a second approaching object.

It had difficulty identifying this one, finding nothing in its databanks to reference the anomaly. Daniel searched across the vision of space until he found it.

A being made entirely of light was approaching the ship. It had several trails that followed its movement like strands of hair underwater, the effect was reminiscent of a gigantic jellyfish.

Shortly it arrived and passed straight through the ship. Daniel watched as the light slipped through the ship’s shields and hull and emerged into the bridge. It passed through the corpses of the crew, and out of sight, those of the passengers. As it did so it drew from the deceased bodies the souls of those who had lived until just recently. They emerged as though carrying out a sun salutation, rising up as shimmering ghosts of their former selves before being swept away with the being of light’s limbs.

Daniel was unaffected and once it had gone he sighed and headed towards the ship’s entertainment hub. He had to admit this was one of his more relaxing existences.

As the ship drifted onwards through space Daniel amused himself in the cinema and partook of the unfinished food in the restaurants. He drifted off eventually in the sauna as the ship became caught in a planet’s gravitational influence. Without the crew to adjust the flight path the ship was soon pulled in and sent hurtling onto the turmoil of the surface below.

 

A single note of a horn sounded and all across the universe it was heard. On the land and in the sky, across the planets and solar systems, the sound was clear and sharp. And on hearing that single note, every mortal died.

 

Daniel didn’t know why. Why it was only ever him who survived the initial wave of death. He was sure he was a mortal and not one of the gods, spirits, demons and devils that were the constant arbiters of these doomsdays. But beyond that he had no clue of what was so special about him.

He awoke, or should he say; became aware, out in the open by a frozen river. The entire landscape around him was covered in a thick blanket of snow and had the appearance of a harsh tundra.

He was dressed in furs and padded leather boots with a heavy head of curly hair and a bushy beard. Snowflakes covered him turning him into a veritable abominable snowman.

A brief recollection of his newest memories revealed that he had been scraping out a life in the shelter of caves as a cruel winter had consumed the world for the past three years. Civilisation had suffered and many had perished from the cold and the famine. He had been on his way to search the nearby ruins of a city for something; food or tools, anything really.

Sure enough, as Daniel turned around he saw the remains of a city. Modern age maybe twentieth century, perhaps a bit earlier, he guessed having become something of an expert in history over time. Large, grey masses that were the remains of skyscrapers doted the landscape, many tipping as their foundations eroded. A lot of the buildings had crumbled too, though from this distance and because of the covering of ice and snow Daniel could not tell the cause.

The cloudless sky allowed a feeble sun to shine across the wintry world. It revealed a rainbow arching across the heavens and as Daniel watched the rainbow it burst into flames. The inferno travelled along its length destroying the myriad colours in a blanket of red and yellow.

A wolf howl reverberated in his ears. He located the source standing on the edge of the tallest skyscraper. To be identifiable from here testified that the wolf must be titanic in stature though Daniel hoped not to be in a position to compare sizes with it. The wolf howled again and again, and each time it did so the sunlight dimmed until Daniel could safely stare at the deep orange of the sun. Canine shadows raced across its surface until it drowned in the darkness and the world was plunged into an eclipse.

A rumbling and shaking indicated the shifting of the land beneath and around Daniel. He stumbled and fell into the snow, submerging himself in the cold. Distantly a pale blue light pierced the black void.

It was emerging from a newly formed cave mouth and was followed by several others. Tiny, floating, blue flames that lit the way for an army of the dead. At its head, seated on a throne carried by four pestilence ridden men, was Hel, a goddess of the underworld.

Her pale face and luxuriant, black hair did little to soften her severe visage. Her body was wrapped in a robe befitting a goddess, but revealed her decomposing legs. The skin peeled and flaked away with unnatural colouring and green ooze dripped from the suppurating pores.

Behind Hel matched her accursed horde, like a mass of zombies they lurched forward, disorganised and disheveled. They still carried with them the wounds and the illnesses which had claimed their lives before. The elderly were not spared the humiliation and marched alongside them, some crawling across the ground when their withered legs could no longer carry them.

More caves appeared, lit by the floating will-o-wisps and legions of the dead poured forth like a horde crawling of insects.

The response came rapidly. A wild roaring battle cry crashed down like thunder. In the sky a heavenly light poured forth bearing upon it the valkyries. They rode down towards the earth in a stampede. Astride great stallions they made an imposing sight with their polished breastplates and shining swords glinting in the light. They were followed by thousands of warriors charging forth, hollering their battle cries.

The warriors ran across the air, as had the valkyries before them, until they touched ground and joined the battle, hacking and shooting at Hel’s army. The warriors consisted of men and women from all periods of history, from the berserkers in furs wielding axes to the men in camouflage gear with automatic machine guns.

Daniel pulled himself up, out of the snowdrift he was submerged in. He had been too slow though and found himself engulfed in the middle of the battle. He had a few glimpses of the great wolf tearing through the ranks of the soldiers and of the gods joining the fight before a knife pushed into his back at the hands of a highwayman’s corpse.

 

A single note of a horn sounded and all across the universe it was heard. On the land and in the sky, across the planets and solar systems, the sound was clear and sharp. And on hearing that single note, every mortal died.

 

Daniel was in a humungous corridor. Its size was so great and its arched ceiling so high as to have been readily able to accommodate a parade of elephants walking two abreast and stacked three high. The architecture was heavily gothic in style and carried the somber reverence of cathedrals.

He rifled through his memories again, this time discovering his position as a monk, which explained the habit he was wearing. And he served in this great, monolithic cathedral. The largest cathedral ever constructed apparently. Indeed if his memories were right he was in a structure that dwarfed the castle towns of the medieval ages and rivaled the height of the modern skyscrapers.

He always did find himself in an existence that had long existed before he became aware of himself. It was a strange occurrence and he had nothing to measure it by. Before each apocalypse he would awaken in a body, one that had memories of an entire life from birth till his arrival. There seemed to be no distinct connection from one body to the next, except that they were all called Daniel.

From the perspective of the body, Daniel was sure, it just one day realised that all along it had been this other person too, who had witnessed the end of the world again and again.

The hall was littered with a long procession of collapsed monks. Dead from the moment they heard the horn blast. Daniel was making his way forward, stepping over the bodies, when an earthquake shook the structure. He tumbled sideways but managed to stabilise and support himself on a gargoyle carved into an alcove on the wall.

A crack tore through the base of the hallway and a gout of steam and heat hissed through it. It stretched further along and as it did so it widened, belching flames and swallowing some of the lifeless bodies of the monks.

Daniel clung to the gargoyle as the floor opened revealing lava and flames far, far below. Out of the ravine launched demons of all kinds. Bat wings and ram heads mingled with human body parts and ferocious mouths full of shark teeth. They scattered and flew away like a swarm screeching and shrieking.

Still they emerged from the bowels of Hell, an endless torrent. One such demon, with the head of a lizard and a fiery whip in his clawed hand, landed before Daniel. Its forked tongue hissed inches away from his face as it leaned in towards him menacingly.

A stone fist clocked the demon on the side of its head and sent it sprawling across the floor. The demon scraped at the stone to halt its movement before it tumbled back into the pit. The gargoyle, now animated, rose up on its legs and, flapping its stone wings free of the gothic architecture, lunged after the demon.

Daniel slipped away, keeping close to the wall to avoid being seen. He rounded a corner that led into a great hall, laid out like a chapel with an aisle, an altar and pews, though still of the same gigantic proportions as the corridor before.

He was immediately ambushed by a trio of snarling, savage demons. They leered at him and swiped with their dirty claws slicing gashes into his arms. A sword thrust through the torso of one of the demons and it howled in anguish before dissolving in an explosion of blinding brilliance.

The heavenly host had arrived, covered in white robes with gold embroidery. Their wings extended from their backs and moved back and forth serenely as they hovered in the air.

It was a flock of five angels, four wielded golden spears whilst their leader gripped tightly a magnificent sword. This was the Angel of Death, Daniel had seen it several times before.

Though the various immortals appeared to be aware of Daniel’s existence he had never had a chance to discover if they knew of his significance, if any; or especially if they remembered as he did each and every existence. It was, after all, difficult to hold a conversation during Armageddon.

The angelic host quickly dispatched the other two demons leaving not a trace. They then flew out into the corridor to fend off the demonic hordes. The lead angel stayed behind. It turned to Daniel and sang a short hymn in a relaxing, deep voice.

He felt drowsy, as he had done the several times before when the Angel of Death had done this to him. Allowing him to sleep through the rest of this conflict. He was grateful for the small mercy, but would have preferred the chance to ask some questions. His last thought echoed in his mind as his head nodded forward and he fell unconscious.

 

A single note of a horn sounded and all across the universe it was heard. On the land and in the sky, across the planets and solar systems, the sound was clear and sharp. And on hearing that single note, every mortal died.

 

The jackal-headed god pounced over the dry earth of the wasteland and tackled his prey to the ground. The prey, a male god with gold bangles adorning his wrist and ankles, fought back, fending off the snapping jaws of the jackal head with a double-bladed sword.

The jackal-headed god, snapping and snarling, swiped with the sickle in his hand slashing the arm of the other god revealing a silver glow where blood should be.

The victim responded swiftly and violently. Magic glyphs appeared in the scant space between the two fighters and erupted into an explosion of directed force flinging the jackal god away and freeing the prey.

Daniel stood by watching the conflict. He knew better than to help, he had learned the hard way long ago that he was no match for the immortals. Besides it wasn’t always easy to tell which side was the righteous one. Around them on the war torn wasteland other combatants assailed each other. Chaos reigning as the sides blurred and the battle became more of a free for all than a cause.

The jackal god sprang to his feet and charged. His opponent stood his ground and another shimmering glyph appeared before him. It poured forth a stream of flame but the jackal dodged to the side and pounced again sickle in hand. The other god was ready this time and parried with his own weapon. The two traded blows, the jackal god exhibiting great skill with his impractical sickle, while the other defended with strong blows and magical assaults.

The battle raged for days with Daniel being ignored and the temperature constantly rising. He’d been able to walk, carefully, around the various combatants until he’d found a ledge that overlooked the battlefield from a safe distance away. He watched until eventually he passed out from heat exhaustion and dehydration.

 

A single note of a horn sounded and all across the universe it was heard. On the land and in the sky, across the planets and solar systems, the sound was clear and sharp. And on hearing that single note, every mortal died.

 

Daniel waded through the water on the mountaintop. Distantly he could see the peaks of the rest of the mountain range poking through the rising water level with the appearance of an archipelago.

He couldn’t remember his first life. He had begun to suspect that he was just one of the many Daniels that this doomsday hopping Daniel had come to inhabit.

He was treading water now, waiting for the time when his muscles would give out.

There had been times though, he mused, when the immortals had acknowledged him as more than a stray. Usually it was the trickster gods, like Loki and Aka Manah, but others did too. A glance here and there, whispers and mutterings. None of it was clear to him though.

His arms began to give and unconcernedly he relaxed and let his head slip beneath the water level.

 

A single note of a horn sounded and all across the universe it was heard.

 

“Is he awake yet?” Asked a female voice.

“Negative,” responded a heavily synthesised voice.

Daniel awoke to find himself lying on a bed. A quick glance at his surroundings revealed the advanced technology of the galactic age. The real giveaway was of course the robot that appeared to be attending him. Based on the general structure of the room, the style of its objects and the apparel of the women who stood in the corner he judged himself to likely be on a spaceship, rather than planet-side.

“What do you mean negative!?” The women angrily shouted at the robot, as Daniel rose to a seating position. She smacked the soft rubber casing of its shoulder with her hand and the robot reeled backwards, pulling its power cord tight. “He’s clearly awake.”

“Statistical analysis indicated subject in comatose state,” the synthetic voice of the robot intoned.

“Urgh! One of these days I’m going to get you fixed!” The women yelled. “What’s that noise?” She said suddenly changing tone.

 

On the land and in the sky, across the planets and solar systems, the sound was clear and sharp.

 

            “That didn’t sound like it came through the ship’s communications systems,” she managed to say before the effect of the horn’s note took her.

Daniel watched apathetically as the women collapsed to the floor, her life gone. The robot swiveled its head to her body with a whirring noise.

“No life signs detected. Probable cause…error…recalculating…error. Anomalous result. Subject deceased. Cause…unknown.”

 

And on hearing that single note, every mortal died.

 

Daniel swung his feet off the bed and stood up. He nodded to the robot and, stepping over the woman’s body left the room.

“Halt,” the robot called. “Please…” It seemed to whisper. Daniel paused outside the door. He peered back at it. It was unusual for a robot to say please. Not unheard of, but very few models were programmed with such mannerisms, or emotions that might lead to such utterances.

It was in the air. Something was different this time Daniel realised, as he unhooked the robot from its power station and allowed it to follow him. Something was very different and for the first time in a long time he was scared.

 

Except one.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s