Abjure the Realm of No Return
Mark A Davis
The attic laboratory was dark. Shadows pooled in the far corners, but in the center sat a large machine which glowed in an unearthly manner. Dressed in his usual rumpled gray suit with an anarchy symbol stitched over the left breast, Grandpa Anarchy studied the back of a man in a white lab coat. Grandpa was known to be the oldest super hero in the world -- and perhaps the world's oldest living human -- but when Doctor Percy Benevolent turned he looked far older, with dark, sunken eyes and gray, baggy skin.
"Horrible beyond conception are the things which I, myself, have witnessed," said Doctor Benevolent. "You with your puny human mind can not even begin to concieve of the depths of terror to which my soul has been subjected...."
"Doc," said Grandpa, "you sound like bad H.P. Lovecraft. Now, what did you call me up here for?"
"All in due time," the Doctor intoned. "Answer me this: What do we know of this universe that we inhabit? Only what we can sense with those organs nature has seen fit to bestow upon us. We only see in what we call the visible spectrum. We hear only within a given frequency range. There are many things which we do not see or hear -- and perhaps things that we have no ability to sense in any way. I believe that unimaginable worlds exist at our very fingertips of which we are wholly unaware.
"And yet you mocked me when I broached the subject, when I suggested that I might be able to pierce the veil and see into these other worlds! You mocked me!"
"Doc, I never mocked you," said Grandpa Anarchy patiently. "I merely said that trying to prove the existence of beings in other dimensions was a waste of your time and that all your research was a massive pile of rubbish. And that your plaid lab coat was the talk of the conference -- and not in a good way. That's all."
Doctor Benevolent grinned like a man tethered to sanity by a solitary, fraying thread. "Oh, Mr. Anarchy, but I have found a way to break down the barriers between this world and the next."
Grandpa studied the machine that dominated one side of the room. It hummed softly, and glowed as if bathed in ultraviolet light. "I get it," said Grandpa. "A device to see into other dimensions. I've seen one before -- Mad Doctor Ibriham built one just like it in 1947."
"You may wonder why the machine glows," said Doctor Benevolent, "but it is not powered by an electrical source in any sense you can understand."
"Extrametaphysical power source?" Grandpa said. "Yeah, seen that before, too."
Shadows swirled about the room. Within those shadows, things moved. A wind whistled a low moan, as if across vast gulfs of space and time. It slowly increased, as the shadows grew ever more distinct.
"I caution you to not move," said Doctor Benevolent. "Here within the rays produced by my machine we are able to be seen, as well as to see. You may think I dismissed the servants, but no -- they were not as careful as I. Something from beyond the worlds we know snatched them up and devoured them!"
"Didn't know you had servants," said Grandpa. The sound was now deafening, like that of a hurricane. A vortex of swirling images and shapes spun about them. Above them could be glimpsed not the attic ceiling, but stars twinkling in the vast gulf of space. "Ain't that kind of antiquated? I got a whole mansion and I don't employ servants, not even a butler. Mind you, I've always got a sidekick to do the laundry...."
"You fool!" the doctor shrieked over the cacophony. "Do you not see? I have lured you here to your doom! You made fun me, but now... but now! Your fate awaits! Just look over your shoulder!"
"No thanks," Grandpa replied. His hand reached behind and grasped something. It squirmed in his grip, a thing with slime-covered tentacles, glistening scales, mad, rolling eyes filled with mild annoyance, and a mouth like a beak filled with horrible rows of sharp, ichor-dripping teeth.
Grandpa didn't look at it. He slammed his fist into its face. Screams rent the night like a demonic chorus of damned souls, like tortured machinery given voice.
Grandpa punched it again, and again, until there was nothing left but a quivering mass of pulpy flesh.
"The trick," said Grandpa, "is to not look at them. If you can't master that, you're in the wrong business." His hand shot out into the shadowy void and grasped a second creature, which he began to thrash with savage blows.
Screams erupted all around them -- howls of impotent rage, as if all the hosts of hell cried out in agony. The very air shrieked for revenge. A spiked tentacle shot from void. It hurled itself across the room and stabbed into the heart of Doctor Benevolent's machine.
Instantly the room grew still. There were no more tentacles, no more screams or maelstrom. All was quiet again.
"Huh," said Grandpa, as Doctor Percy Benevolent stared at him in horror. "You know, that's exactly what they did last time, too!"