Estimated reading time — 17 minutes
When I was young, I had a dream. The dream itself was not an uncommon one among those who shared my age, of those on the brink of adulthood. In fact, I would say that it’s a very common ambition for anyone with the capability to imagine and to wonder. And in a way, I feel it is safe to say that we all aspire to accomplish such a dream in some aspect or another. Some seek it on an intellectual level, some seek it on an emotional one and some seek it physically.
Adventure, discovery, love, power, truth. All these words could be used to accurately describe the dream in which I had, in which we all had. Though, I doubt that any one word could completely embody the dream itself for the dream was more than just an aspiration or a wish, it was a destiny; a journey that could only ever be halted by one thing; death. For you see, our lives are the dream and by living we strive towards it.
This destined odyssey that we call life – which originates from that first initial dream – can lead us to many different places. Some of us are lead down a trail of tears; one full of agony and suffering. Others are exempt from this, and live a life of luxury and convenience. Most of us, however, end up following and living by the center road, a road that will neither be plagued by exuberant and overly frequent misery nor an utter lack of misfortune. Some find happiness and love while others only find anger and hate. Some journeys involve the destruction of nations while others bring about the construction of livelihoods which had before been unknown, anything is possible.
And in knowing this, I would gladly trade my destined discovery for any other fate, whether it be one of utter grief or the opposite; for nothing could be worse than what my scarred soul has stood witness to.
* * * * * *
The Nevada sun is one of the harshest on the planet; it beats mercilessly down upon all those who expose themselves to it, only allowing breaks from its damning heat during the freezing nights. For those who have not been born and raised in these sweltering conditions, it is easy to understand why they dread the place. Extreme heat is usually only welcome when accompanied by a large body of water, which has always been scarce in the desert wastelands of Nevada. But for someone who has lived there all their life – such as myself – it is home. Not just home, mind you, but a way of life.
To my family, those vast mountains of tanned rock and that beating sun are sacred. We were there before the Europeans first discovered America, before the sound of their thunderous muskets and cannons swept across the lands, before the east expanded into the west. But, try as hard as we did to hide, the world eventually caught up with us.
Along with the settlers came ambition and wonder. As one can imagine, it did not take long for the newcomers to discover the bountiful wealth of gold that lay just inside the mountains of our precious lands. And once the word was out, mining operations became as common in Nevada as scorpions in the sand.
Over the years, the mines dried out, as would be expected. But rather than be sealed off, many were simply… abandoned and left to be buried by time. Most of these old tunnel networks still exist today and are scattered quite abundantly throughout the otherwise sparse land.
It was in these abandoned tunnels that I found joy and wonderment as a child. While others played outside in the blistering sun, I found adventure in the forgotten excavations of those long gone. It was in these places that I felt my dreams of exploration and discovery come to pass. As a young boy, I was limited only to the ones close to home, but as I grew older, I began to branch out further and further until I found myself venturing days at a time in an old pickup to look for traces of these ancient locations.
By the time I was in my mid-twenties, my fascination with the old mines of Nevada had not diminished, rather it had grown. And with it, so had my skill in exploring them.
I was twenty-seven when I discovered the ancient mine-shaft that would inevitably change my life forever. I had come to hear about it in a nearby town through a man who approached me while I was fueling up at a gas station. He made a comedic remark about the tools in the back of my truck and asked if I was out searching for mines to explore. Politely, I replied with a yes.
It was then that he spun me an extremely interesting tale. He claimed to have discovered the entrance to an old mine a couple of years ago while searching for rare rocks to display in a museum he owned. According to him, it was buried under a considerable amount of brush and foliage in a canyon down the road from the gas station. What really intrigued me, however, was his suggestion that the mine had never been explored or set foot in since the old gold rush days.
Naturally, I was hesitant to believe him due to how unlikely it was that such a place would go undiscovered for so long; every mine I had ever set foot in had been picked clean by those looking for priceless relics to sell for exuberant amounts of money. Which never bothered me; the allure of ancient gold had no effect on me. However, the thought of exploring a mine that had been completely untouched by anyone besides the miners who made it did seem quite appealing to me.
I thanked the man and accepted his offer to reveal the location to me, which he did quite eagerly. In my logical mind, I figured I might as well try to find it since it was along the route in which I was traveling.
It hardly took any time to get there, and although it was difficult and time-consuming, I did eventually find the entrance concealed beneath a considerable amount of brush and foliage, just as the man said it would be.
By that time in my life, I could have been considered a professional judged solely by the equipment I brought along. Within the large backpack I carried on my back, one would find a couple of packs of glow sticks, a flashlight, provisions, water, a knife, and other miscellaneous objects useful for the exploration of such places. Some might say that this was too much, but the old tunnels had a tendency to be dangerous and entirely devoid of light, making it only careful to bring such an array of things.
As I stood before the entrance of the mine (which had undoubtedly been full of money-hungry miners and prospectors long ago), I found myself feeling… strange about the place. It was a feeling of which I can in no way describe fully; I can only say that it was neither positive nor negative. Rather, it was a kind of… anxiety, an understanding that this place would be… different. Looking back, I think that deep down I had known my fate would change that day, that my entire life would become altered by that loathsome expedition into the deep unknown. But rather than take this as a sign to turn away, my excitement twisted it so that I would only expect something marvelous.
In my mind, greatness awaited me in that cursed tunnel.
And so, I turned on my flashlight and began my journey into the core of terror itself.
* * * * * *
As I pressed onwards into the mine, I began to become disconcerted by a couple of things. The first of which was how singular the tunnel was; not once did it split off or turn in any other direction, rather it kept going in one continuous path. The second was that there was a distinct lack of relics, which were usually quite common amongst abandoned mines, especially those which had been utterly unexplored. And finally, the entire tunnel was quite steep in its decline, so much so – in fact – that I found considerable difficulty in trying to walk back up. It was as if the miners were digging directly towards something deep in the earth rather than searching for a large gold deposit as was ordinarily the circumstance.
All of these strange details did nothing but pique my curiosity, my mind began to race with ideas as to what awaited me further in the mine.
After half an hour or so, I came to a solidly smooth wall. It stood completely vertical before me without any chips or slants in it what so ever, which I found quite unusual. The obstruction was to be the end of my expedition, I thought.
Oh, how wrong I was. For after examining it for a few seconds, I noticed a large… gap. Entirely natural from the look of it, unlike the man-made mineshaft I stood in. It appeared as if the walls had simply… pulled apart from each other, leaving a perfectly narrow passage through which one could potentially travel if he or she chose to do so.
Normally, I would have decided that it was far too dangerous to travel through such a claustrophobic crevice, but this was not a normal circumstance. I do not know for certain what compelled me to fit myself into the small opening, though I suspect that the draw of a fated destiny I had felt since entering the mine played a major role.
As I traveled through the encroaching rock and stone, I began to become weary that the passage would never come to an end, and if it did, that end would be a solid wall or a sudden and non-traversable narrowing of the tunnel. And on top of that, a strange… sensation began to arouse within me. It was entirely different from the feeling I mentioned earlier, rather it was an inkling much more similar to fear.
At the time, I figured that it was only natural considering my predicament; I was traveling through an extremely dark and narrow passage that could lead nowhere after all. But looking back, I suspect that the source of my dread was far more sinister in nature.
After what felt like an eternity of slowly making my way through the crevice, I finally came to its end. Only, it wasn’t an end. Rather, it was an opening. What greeted me was not a solid wall or sudden narrowing of the tunnel, quite the opposite really; it was an exit, a way to escape the passage. Upon emerging from the crevice I found myself in an immense cavern which impressed upon me a feeling of utter awe.
Darkness enwrapped me on all sides, seemingly relentless in its attempt to consume me. As I shone the flashlight up, the sight that greeted my eager eyes was not dissimilar to the night sky, the only difference being the utter lack of stars or any kind of light. The same scene welcomed me on all sides but two; downwards and behind me. The solid rock on which I stood and the ancient-looking stone wall to my rear from which I’d come was all I could definitively see and feel. Everything else was a mystery to me.
Whether it was the horrid darkness or the absolute absence of any kind of noise or smell, I do not know; but something prompted a strong intuition from deep within my consciousness that made me feel as though the cavern was of colossal proportion. And try as hard as I did, my meager flashlight did little to illuminate both the cavern and my knowledge of what exactly surrounded me.
I reached down to the floor, picked up a loose pebble and threw it as far as I could into the looming blackness. The sound received by my ears perplexed me for it was not the noise of rock meeting rock; rather it was the loud echoing thud of rock meeting metal. I snapped a glow stick and placed it at my feet, marking the entrance to the cavern. Then, curiously, I began to move forward with extreme caution, aiming my flashlight directly ahead of me while doing so.
It was only after a couple of minutes of traveling that the tone of my boots meeting the stone beneath my feet changed to a sound more similar to the metal thud I had heard earlier. I aimed my flashlight downwards to see a metal – which appeared to be bronze – dug into the solid rock of the earth. My eyes widened as I came to the realization that I was standing on solid bronze. Not bronze ore, not some mutated form of rock, no; solid bronze metal, Bronze that had been melted down and shaped this way. I took to a crouching position and gave the metal a soft knock with my knuckles, which emitted a loud echo throughout the cavern. Based on the tone of the knock, I could immediately discern that the bronze was not hollow and that it was indeed a thick layer of melted alloy.
Curiosity overwhelmed me.
I snapped a glow stick and placed it at my feet, marking the rim of the metal. I began to walk along the threshold in which the bronze and the stone collided, but never mixed. And as I did so, I did not encounter a single corner; only a monotonous curve which (after a long while) led me back to the glow stick I had placed earlier. It was then that I understood the outlining shape of the alloy; it was perfectly circular. And not only that, but in my “measuring”, I came to have a rough understanding of how truly enormous both the cavern and the plate of metal must be.
Anyone who knows anything about nature knows that perfect circles are not overly abundant in our natural world; especially when in the form of a solid bronze-like metal and as deep underground as this. Needless to say, I was breathless.
Now that had I traced the shape of the metal, I desired to explore the center of the circle. Yet despite my spilling curiosity, I was still cautious; and so my steps towards the core were slow and hesitant. As I moved forward, I shone my flashlight all around the surface on which I stood, and I as I did so I began to notice something… unusual.
There were lumps protruding from metal, finely chiseled and erected by something other than nature. It was only upon closer inspection that I discovered that they weren’t quite lumps, rather they were symbols and glyphs. And their positions were not random either; they were arranged like lines of writing, one after the other, in a circular fashion following the disk-like outline of the metal. They appeared to be hieroglyphs or some form of ancient script.
Growing up, the exploration of old mineshafts was not my only interest; I also had an extreme fascination with lost cultures from long ago. The Maya, the Inca, even my own Native American ancestral roots. I had studied many of the ancient dialects of lost civilizations from all over the world, but none of them were anything like the archaic chirography that lay around my feet. In fact, the dialects I had studied seemed to be derived from the writing before me, for many of their combined letters and alphabets seemed uncannily similar to the glyphs around me.
Lost in wonderment at the marvel on which I stood, I began to understand the impact this archaic alloy could have on the world. My mind raced with possibilities as to its origin, yet I could not settle on any one conclusion. The only thing I felt certain of in that eerily large cavern was that the circular plate of metal predated any known civilization.
Feeling more confident in my safety, I pushed onwards towards the center, more determined than ever to see what awaited me.
Eventually, I found myself standing before a circular pedestal made of the same bronze-like metal as the disc-like plate on which I stood. Its height reached up to my abdomen (I was roughly 5’9” at the time) and within the basin-like top of it was a sphere, which appeared to be made of the same alloy as the pedestal. There was more strange writing on the sphere; and even though the hieroglyphs were entirely foreign to me, I was somehow able to read them.
“Carnate, the tormentor; devourer of worlds and father of all misery.”
Upon understanding them I became disgruntled and unsettled; even more so than I had been previously. There was a certain… allure to those words. I felt the desire to grab the object and pull it from its pedestal, but I refused to give in and quickly turned my attention downwards to the flat face of the otherwise circular pedestal in an attempt to escape the sphere’s power over me.
I shone my light upon the surface of the odd column of strange alloy, immediately noticing the odd carvings that had been etched into it as I did so. What was depicted on that abnormal pedestal I shall never forget; just like the symbols on the sphere, they will forever be etched into my memory. Never before had I seen something so intricate in nature. Yet, despite its beauty, there was a certain terror to it.
Many of the figures and shapes were too bizarre for me to understand, but I will do my best to correlate their appearance to you. At the base was a row of consistent zigzags, which I perceived to be some sort of fire. Erecting from the “flames” were what appeared to be two rectangular pillars that were covered in the same hieroglyphics as those inscribed into the bronze floor. There were many other shapes and lines scattered about the mesh of images, none of which I can describe or identify in any way. All save one; which appeared to be the centerpiece of the network of images.
Although I found it quite baffling to stare at, I could vaguely discern what it was – or what it was depicting at least. It was a humanoid shape topped with an odd head, a head that appeared vastly different than that of a human’s. Its shape was similar to a dog’s skull, yet from both sides of its head protruded goat-like horns that curled continuously.
Even if it was merely an image, it still felt as if all the evil in the world had come together and spawned the horrible thing which sat engraved into that pedestal before me. It inspired nothing but unmistakable fear within me, fear so primal and basic that it felt more like a memory than an emotion – as if distress at the sight of this beast had been hardwired into the basic programming of my psyche. And as I continued to stare at it, I couldn’t help but think back to the strange phrase which had been written into the sphere of the basin.
“Carnate, the tormentor; devourer of worlds and father of all misery.”
Again and again, those unexplainable words ran through my mind.
That strange desire returned to me then, forcing me to turn my gaze upwards toward the sphere in the basin of the pedestal. Out of an unexplainable impulse, I placed my hand over the object and began to softly caress the odd hieroglyphs which covered the strange sphere. It felt warm, like a battery would after being used. That irrepressible urge overwhelmed me then; I gripped the sphere in my hand in preparation to remove it. For but a fleeting moment, I felt hesitant; but only for a moment.
I shall forever consider that simple action to be the biggest mistake of my life.
I pulled the sphere from the pedestal in one smooth movement, relishing the feel of it in my hand. My joy was only momentary, however, for it was only a second after that a loud and terrifying click echoed from beneath my feet, which was followed by a low tremble.
Frightened by the sudden noise and slight shaking of the earth, I began to run towards the crevice through which I arrived so that I could escape. It was only after stepping off of the metal and onto the solid rock that I heard another noise behind me, a noise I cannot identify for it was in no way similar to anything I had heard in my life until that moment. The noise was so curious, in fact, that I felt compelled to stop and turn around. And as I so did so, I was greeted by a radiate light unlike any other. It was golden in color, yet sinister in nature, for as it washed over me and the cavern I could feel nothing besides fear. And stranger still, it seemed to be originating from the odd hieroglyphics which had been so carefully inscribed upon the bronze-like metal floor.
It was then that the metal itself began to mutate into a rust-colored liquid and spread into the surrounding rock, transforming the ancient stone into the same copper-brown tinted metal the liquid once was.
I remember feeling my eyes widen in pure wonderment, for I had never seen anything like that before. Deep down, I believe I knew that it was an omen of what was to come; I believe I had some suspicion trying to convince me that such a beautifully odd sight could only herald something so primordial and awful that I would never be able to erase it from memory.
Yet I continued to stare with awe entirely present in my expression as the brownish metal spread through the rock and stone that made the floors and walls of that dreadful cavern. And as it did so, I could see the familiar engravings forming within the freshly created alloy, just as they had appeared when I first laid eyes upon them.
A loud boom drew my attention from the cavern walls and toward the origin of the metal; the space in which the strange alloy had once so quietly resided. Only now, there was no metal; only a perfectly circular hole in the earth, a pit from which only an indescribably putrid smell emitted.
My wonderment faded, and fear once again became the most prominent emotion within me; it compelled me to move towards the exit, which had – for a reason still unknown to me – not been covered by the bronze-like metal. Yet, despite the desire to run away, my feet remained planted and as immovable as stone. For although fear compelled me to flee, some dwindling fascination with the pit forced me to stay.
All I could do was stare at that terrible pit, eyes wide and flashlight fixed upon its position, which was just within range. My heart climbed into my throat out of anticipation and anxiety – and for the briefest moment – all was as silent as it had been before the loud noise.
Suddenly, a large, red hand with enormous claw-like nails emerged from the pit and slammed onto the metallic edge of the pit, apparently gripping it for support.
Fascination abandoned me then, and fear took full control.
I turned towards the crevice through which I had entered and broke into a sprint, never before had I ran so desperately or desired to return to the fresh rays of the Nevada sun so badly. My legs carried me swiftly and it wasn’t long until I found myself at the mouth of the narrow passage.
Feeling assured of my escape, I turned for what could only have been a few seconds to see what had inflicted so much terror upon me. Concerning what met my eyes in that horrific moment, I will say little; for I do not wish to dwell on the memory too long lest my torment grows further.
What greeted me was… Unfathomably horrific in every aspect imaginable. It seemed to be the upper half of an incredibly massive and red-skinned humanoid looming out of the pit. Its entire body appeared to be coated with some sort of burgundy tinted slime, which dripped in massive globules from its body. And beneath its skin, I could see writhing shapes and figures. Upon seeing them, I could just… Feel that they were alive within the beast and that they were all gripped by a pain far more severe than anything any man alive or dead has ever experienced.
And connected to the torso was that familiarly hideous dog-like head which had been engraved upon the pedestal; only now I could see it clearly and without confusion. Its spiraling horns were tremendous and seemed to seep with nothing but agony, and its eyes… its eyes were indescribable. They were a color I had never viewed before, and never wish to view again. By merely looking at them, I could feel pain course through my body, pain unlike anything I would have been able to imagine before. Its head was, as the pedestal had foretold, incredibly canine in nature. Only there was no fur or hair of any kind, only blood-colored skin crawling with tormented shapes and burgundy slime dripping from its impossibly large teeth.
That brief eternity of staring at one another ended, however, when the creature opened its large lipless jaws to let out a roar so intense in volume that it knocked me and my flashlight backwards into the passage through which I had come. A loud noise followed the roar, and as I perked my head up to peer out of the narrow tunnel I could see the familiar rust-colored liquid spreading over the mouth of the crevice in which I lied; transforming into that same bronze-like alloy covered in strange hieroglyphics and creating a barrier between me and the thing from the pit.
And then I ran.
Concerning my escape through that ancient tunnel, I remember little for I was in such a hazy and panicked condition that I can hardly recall a thing. Apparently, I was discovered sprawled out on a road near the mine by a night-time driver and was promptly taken to a hospital. I was treated for a couple of broken bones and minor cuts there and thereafter questioned as to how I had ascertained such injuries. I could provide no answers, only a blank stare. When I was finally released from the hospital, I was given all of my belongings back. Among them was the horrid sphere which I had recovered from that retched abyss.
* * * * * *
And that’s it. That’s my story, my encounter. That’s my recounting of the day I came face to face with genuine evil, an evil so true in its form that no man could fully understand it. I know neither what it is nor where it came from, and I don’t want too. Though, I feel certain that both the metal and the giant were not of this world; the earth would never be able to conjure such things naturally.
For the past six years, I’ve lived in misery because of what I experienced in that damned cave. Whenever I close my eyes I see that terrible face with those horrible eyes and those awful horns… and every time I do the fear I felt in that moment fills me once again. I don’t sleep anymore. I just lay there with my eyes open, too afraid to close them. And I can still hear that roar, every second of every day, reverberating through my memory; as if I were still there in that horrid cave of nightmares.
That’s not the worst part either. The worst part is that I know I’m not insane, I know that what I saw was real. I know it’s still out there, pounding away in its metal prison. And I know that a day will come when it is freed once again, and that day will be our last. That day will be the one in which we join the writhing shapes beneath its skin, when our blood becomes the burgundy slime that drips from its unnatural body. And although that day can be eternally delayed, it can never be prevented.
Whether you perceive me as a raving madman or as a prophet preaching our doom, I do not care. For these words are to be my final, these thoughts to be my last. Every man has a breaking point, and I have reached mine; there is a gun in my hand and I intend to use it. Not on anyone else, mind you, for they yet have hope and reason to live in their hearts; they have not seen what lurks beneath. This weapon, so commonly associated with sadness and war, is to be my salvation. I find it oddly heavy.
Do not waste your time searching for the sphere either; for I have stowed it away in a place where it shall never be found.
Consider this last request to be my will in its entirety; seek neither the mine nor its inhabitant for you will only find a nightmare more horrific than anything you have dared imagine. And then the beast, Carnate, will be free.
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