Dreams from Outer Spheres

“Great holes secretly are digged where Earth’s pores ought to suffice, and
things have learnt to walk that ought to crawl.”

Just as that mad Arab once scribed in his accursed grimoire, there are things which haunt this earth, be it in a physical, tangible form, like the modern day horrors of conflict and killings; or in their threat alone, like the spectre of a nuclear apocalypse or riotous uprisings; or, worse yet, in their eerie legacy, like the abiding dread of Hitler’s malevolence, or, from more ancient times, the knowledge that even the Lord God of Hosts has wiped clean the slate of humankind, as we stand on the brink of doing once more ourselves.

However, there are more insidious things playing on the minds of the masses, parasitically crawling and scratching their subconscious thoughts like some subtly sinister memory that refuses to fade and crumble to nothingness like most others. Just as a cruel nightmare continues to have its unnerving effects even after waking, these disturbing thoughts scuttle and skulk in the dark recesses of the psyche, and fester and grow – from minor thought, to doubt, and onwards and downwards into darker and darker depths, eventually unhinging one entirely. Just as the remnants of a dream disturb the dreamer long after rising, so too do these once trivial whimsies – for sometimes the most disconcerting and baleful things have their roots in such a whimsical thing as dreams.

I myself once played host to such a feeling, the irrepressible and inexplicable worry that humanity did not lay the first stones of the great cities and civilisations, but rather, that we are an abominable carrion-feeder feasting upon the husk of an empire once greater than we ever shall be. As many paranoiacs will attest, it began simply with a striking, almost garish dream, beheld in a fitful sleep at the height of an unknown malady or fever. However, the tale begins a little before this, and it makes sense for me to start recounting it at its logical beginning.

It was the thirteenth day of February when the much respected Doctor O’Connell died, and it was a black day for all of Arkford. Indeed, even the elements mourned for the gentle professor’s passing, as the sky wept for hours, and the clouds howled their thunderous grief. Joseph O’Connell, a professor of ancient history at Arkford University, was much loved in the city, for in addition to his gentle, benevolent nature, he had once been a sculptor and an architect, and examples of his work in both fields were evident throughout the city – often the buildings he had a hand in designing sported one of his acclaimed busts or bas-reliefs. This was no more evident anywhere than the university itself, for the entire wing devoted to the branches of History was designed by O’Connell alone, and its entrance was flanked by two great figures in marble – those of Sophocles and of Plato – both wrought by the professor’s hands long before he took up the mantle of lecturer. So it was that his passing of heart failure at the regal age of seventy-four was met with such sorrow.

However, his later years, as a lecturer of Ancient History; and finally a Professor of the same field upon gaining his doctorate; produced his most prolific work – quite literally hundreds of books worth of notes, journal entries, musings and research into the farthest stretches of the past, all hastily and poorly stuffed into an array of mouldering cardboard boxes. As the late professor’s great-nephew and only surviving relative, it was I to whom this vast array of knowledge was bequeathed.

Three days I mourned his loss, along with his friends and colleagues, but once his body had been lain to rest, I set to work on I task I had appointed myself – giving some degree of order to the unruly annals of antiquated arcane compiled throughout his career. However, I was to find that this was a more engaging task than I had first thought, and for my great-uncle was a learned man indeed, and in addition to the three large boxes of dog-eared notebooks, newspaper cuttings and type-written documents, he also had a sizeable filing cabinet filled to capacity with much of the same, though to my great dismay, the contents of this were kept in even less order than those of the boxes. By the time I had brought all these materials back to my home to be sorted, the sun had long set, and the combination of the mental exhaustion and physical exertion of carrying everything the three streets from Dr. O’Connell’s office to my house outside the university grounds was enough to set me into a deep, dream-punctuated sleep.

The nature of these dreams, despite my tendency to envisage forbidden, eldritch scenes and otherworldly vistas, was of an almost ineffable absurdity, and I felt almost relieved when the coming of the morning sun roused me from my slumber. I awoke to a beautifully clear, sunny day, and my peculiar sense of relief was heightened by the cloudless sky – for in my dreams, I had been looking down through the clouds, as though high above them, upon a strange little city by the sea. The character of this city – its dusty roads, clay and stone huts, and its seeming arrangement around one central market-place or square – all bespoke of its brooding antiquity. Indeed, it seemed to be the very archetype of the biblical ‘Old World’ cities embodied in yellow and brown masonry.

Though I could not make out any of the particular details of this prehistoric relic, I could imagine its daily life with ease, and even as I stood wakefully staring out of my window, I could picture bustling bazaars with traders peddling gold from glittering Ophir, precious stones from resplendent Sarnath, sea-green trinkets from wave-lapped Ib, and much more than the modern mind could shape in conscious thought; while carts and camels came and went along granite-paved roads leading to Cairo and Memphis, where Yahweh’s children still awaited deliverance, or to the ocean-straddling lands of Canaan, where the fish-god Dagon is held triumphant in his magnificent temple. All this and more came to me tacitly as I dreamt, gazing down from a point fixed above the clouds.

Obviously, I thought as I began to get washed and dressed for the day ahead, this awe-inspiring view of some ancient city came from the influence of my great-uncle, and my sleeping mind had cobbled the scene together from bits and pieces I had heard from him or read in his theses and papers. However, I was not so sure about this when I began to recall how my eerie dream had finished – for not only had it no connection with anything I may have consciously or subconsciously gathered from my uncle, but no such thing had ever edged its way into my dreams before. As I had looked down upon this silent city, I could see, on the periphery of my visions, four stars moving towards each other at a vast speed. My scant knowledge of astronomy was enough to tell me that these were Polaris, Sirius, Betelgeuse and Arcturus – stars that do not belong anywhere near each other in the sky. As they raced anomalously together, words began to form in my mind. I say this because although they were not thoughts or words of mine, I could hear no voice – but the message was pounding itself into my head, and it went as thus – “Repent, foul city of Ictheon. You and yours must fall prostrate before the Lord, for your DOOM is coming.”

As I felt these words forming within me, branding themselves upon my mind with blessed fire, I could see the four stars revolving, for they had this point come together to form a perfect square. As this square spun on its axis, I fancied that I could almost hear the cry of an eagle, a lion’s roaring, a bull’s lowing, and, strangest of all, unintelligible human speech, all intruding upon my thoughts in the same way as the proclamation that had proceeded them.

All this began to worry me, for I did not believe that even in the wildest malady-fuelled reveries could such a vision be spawned unaided. There was more to the city of Ictheon than a scholar’s dream could attest, and I determined that I should get to the bottom of the matter. Almost instinctively, I felt that the solution, or at least some degree of it, would lie within the career-spanning research of my late uncle. With this in mind, I immediately sought out the boxes I had brought back the previous day, and began to sift through them. Pages upon pages, cutting after cutting, book after book, I sorted through decades of material, scanning through everything I could interpret – and all to no avail. There were accounts of archaeological digs in Asia turning up ancient temples, hastily scribbled impressions of exhibitions of artefacts seen in museums across the country, poor sketches or renderings imagining in graphic form that which antediluvian texts speak of in words. In short, these boxes contained everything, and nothing. Everything my uncle had ever found noteworthy and nothing that would help me. Perhaps, I thought, the city of Ictheon was indeed just some capricious chimera of my imagination, conjured up out of nothing just as any other dream would be.

However, something kept niggling at the back of my mind. I do not know how, or why, but I was convinced – without any trace of doubt – that what I had dreamt was entirely fictional. I wanted to believe it was, and indeed, all logic pointed in that direction. Despite this, I avowed that I would follow up on my gut feeling that this vision was more than it seemed, and resolved to journey to the university the next day to discuss the matter with the other lecturers, and to browse the library there. For the moment, however, I felt I must retire for the night, as the extensive straining to read my uncle’s smudged and nigh-indecipherable scrawl had induced in me a severe headache. Taking a mug of sweetened tea beforehand to calm my throbbing head, I lay down for the night, and was not long in dropping off to sleep.That night I dreamt again of the brooding city of Ictheon, but this time my dream took on a more horrifying aspect. Once more, I was positioned somewhere above the clouds, looking down upon the realm of stone and sand, but this time I did not behold the city in the dead of night, when all was silent. This time around, I observed the diurnal goings-on of the city, and could see a multitude of minute forms moving to and fro throughout the stone metropolis. Just as I had thought, there was a hectic marketplace, thronging with life, although I was surprised to see that it was not set up in the large central plaza, but down a wide side-street instead. Though I was not close enough to see any individual details, I could still hear what was going on, and from the confusion of sounds, I could make out traders from Sona-Nyl peddling gemstone amulets, and visitors from Tholarion seeking an elaborate tapestry commissioned for their ruler, the eidolon Lathi. Though discernable, the rasping, glutinous accents of the natives were intrinsically repellent, and my wonderment at the city soon grew to a dislike of it and its inhabitants.

However, my attention soon turned to the aforementioned plaza, and I perceived it to be almost devoid of life, with only a solitary figure seemingly dancing around a central pillar or monolith. I guessed from this that the space was reserved for a religious purpose, perhaps serving as some outdoor temple or place of worship. Almost the very instant that this thought passed through my mind, my head was jolted back with a sudden shock, and at length I realised I was falling at great speed down to earth. My dream-self screamed and roared its desire to wake before it hit the ground, lest that be the end of both my dreaming and waking mind. This was not the case, however, and I found myself decelerating as I neared the ground, and came to a halt floating a few feet above the ground.

As I looked all around, taking in the breathtaking sights of this archaic settlement, I saw that I was in the almost-empty plaza around which the town seemed to have been built. Turning my attention to the central monolith, I noticed that it was carven from obsidian, and appeared to have been sculpted of one continuous piece, leaving me in awe wondering as to whence such a vast piece could have come. It was of the green-veined variety commonly prized for its unusual beauty, and had been carefully engraved so that each of the bas-reliefs running across it made clever use of these streaks of vivid green. The nature of these bas-reliefs I could not recognise, for they were crafted with an art long since lost to the annals of time, and dealt with unfamiliar zoomorphic deities or stylisations performing deeds I could not discern.

Principal among these figures was a grand, mountainous individual whose frame was oddly hunched over, with clawed hands and a piscine head resembling that of a barracuda or pike. This I took to be their god, or a representation of the city’s ruler, for smaller figures in its likeness seemed to be worshipping it, or presenting it with tithes and tributes. Its size was greatly exaggerated, for one of the more peculiar carvings portrayed it slaying a vast whale with its bare hands, and devouring the carcass in an orgy of bloodshed. Sickened, I averted my gaze from the horrible eikon and its engraved eidola, and turned my attention to the reveller who I had earlier seen dancing before this pillar, dancing his orgiastic rites in solitude. His back was to me, but it was only a fleeting second before he turned his head towards me, and I believe that it was then that I wakened screaming.

For when I laid eyes upon the countenance of the dancer, I saw at once all my horrors realised in flesh. He was damnably human in general outline despite his webbed hands, shockingly wide and flabby lips, glassy, bulging eyes, and other features less pleasant to recall. Long he stared at me, and not once did I see him blink those grotesquely piscine eyes. No, his gaze met my own for an eternity, before his flaccid lips began to shape the words “Welcome, traveller, to Ictheon.” His accent was of the same glutinous, viscous quality that I had heard earlier, and as he spoke, the folds of skin on his thick neck seemed to quiver, as though they were gills gasping for breath. A filthy hand was extended towards me in a gesture of greeting, though I thank Gods in His throne above that I woke before I met its slimy touch.

I had barely thrown myself out of bed, and hurriedly dressed myself, than I ran from the house, and hastily sprinted across the city to the university grounds, not stopping until I passed betwixt the welcoming effigies of Plato and Sophocles, and arrived at the History department of the academy. The eerie quiet was undermined by a low murmur of voices, and I cursed my timing as I realised that I had arrived during one of the lectures. However, I began to make my way in the direction of the professors’ offices, supposing that at least one of the lecturers would be able to be found there. In this I was correct, though I almost passed by the middle-aged Professor Gillespie sitting at his desk, and was only alerted to his presence by the sound of his thick, unfading Cavan brogue greeting me as I passed. I momentarily forgot my purpose, and stood for some time idly chatting with him, catching up on old conversation and exchanging tales of the life of my late uncle. It was only after perhaps twenty or thirty minutes of this banter that I recalled the task at hand, and immediately broke of the sentence I was still uttering in order to broach the subject.

Upon the very mention of the name of the city of my dreams, the professor seemed taken aback, and almost jumped out of his seat in his rush to reach a bookshelf upon the wall, looking hurriedly through musty old volumes and leather-bound tomes with their nigh-indecipherable Hebrew or Latin names embossed in fading gold leaf, before handing me a particularly worn and moth-eaten manuscript, whose Latin title displayed the title ‘The Book of Sarnoch’. As he handed this to me, he swiftly informed me that the original text dated back to the days of Moses, though this was a more recent printing. I asked him what he knew of Ictheon and this antiquated tome, and why he was giving it to me, but all he would do by way of reply was shake his head vigorously, and press the old volume into my hands. Taking the hint, I thanked him, and left with the book firmly tucked under my arm, taking my time while returning home. When at length I passed through my own door, I immediately sat at the kitchen table, and began to read the book I had just acquired. Barely had I opened the cover when the stench of aeons assailed my senses – that of worm-eaten cloth and mouldering parchment. Though the writing was Latin, and the medieval text fading beyond reprieve, I did not have much trouble in translating it, and was somewhat shocked to find that while it began, as many Hebrew religious books did, with a proclamation of the prophetic visions of its author, though it soon progressed to give vivid description of an ancient city, much like the one of which I had dreamt. It was only the mention of the hideous carven idol in the centre of the plaza which made me realise the horrible connection – this was indeed an account of the antediluvian city of Ictheon. In English follows a rough translation of the account of the city, for I cannot rephrase these words in my own prose without losing much of their impact. However, I was disheartened to see that several of the pages had decayed and festered for so long that they had turned entirely to the dust from whence the once came.

“And lo, did they dance, the awful hybrid children of Ictheon. In front of their graven eikon they pranced and leapt, singing their blasphemies to their god Dagon. This displeased the Lord, and many times He sent His prophets to tell them to cease their sacrilege and turn instead to the worship of the One True Lord. Each time He did this they ignored the prophet’s words, and murdered him. At last, the Lord grew angry with these heathens, and was sickened by their rites with the spawn of Dagon. He wished not to have his earth blackened by their loathsome crawling kind, and sent his Cherubim to punish them. On the first day that the Lord decreed this, the Cherubim stood in the sky above, and warned the peoples of their coming doom. This they ignored. On the second night they merely watched, waiting for the peoples to fall repentant. This they did not do. On the third night.”

Here it was that the pages began to crumble, though I knew enough from what was presented before me that my dreaming had not been merely an idle fantasy concocted in the darkest recesses of the mind, but indeed represented something which, if not real, was at least prior expressed somewhere in time.

Satisfied, I returned the book to the professor Gillespie’s office, though I found that he was not in, and left a note for him explaining the tragic fragmentation of several pages of the text. I did not return home immediately, instead I took a journey into the city centre, for I wished to enjoy my day, having confirmed the doubts which had prevented me from concentrating previously. After an exquisite lunch in one of the finer cafés, and a pleasant stroll through the buzzing shopping centres and main streets, I made my way home, thoroughly shattered. A strong cup of coffee failed to rouse my flagging spirits, and I decided to simply retire for the night – a decision I soon came to regret, for clarity did not end the madness of my dreams.

That night, the contents of the lost text in the ‘Book of Sarnoch’ lost all their mystery, as the events they surely depicted were revealed to me in a nocturnal phantasmagoria, the full nature of which pen and paper cannot entirely do justice. I once again saw the city of Ictheon by night, from my vantage-point high above the clouds, but unlike the first vision, all was not quiet, for there must surely have been some sort of festival being entertained. Hordes of the vile, squat-faced, piscine people of the city danced wildly about the obsidian monolith in the centre of the square, chanting obscenely in a tongue unknown to me. While many danced, others kept to the outside of the fray, and on occasion threw what appeared to be fish into the madding crowd. This orgiastic rite grew to an almost-deafening crescendo, and I was almost skinned of my senses by the maelström of noise. However, a ghostly witch-light fell upon the throng, lighting the edges of the volcanic pillar-idol in a striking manner. Looking up to the source of this, I saw once again the four stars – Arcturus, Betelgeuse, Polaris and Sirius – had aligned themselves in a diamond shape, and were growing larger in the sky, as though coming closer to earth. Within moments, their masses were beside me, and I saw that they were not even stars at all, but greatly luminous figures, whose awe-inspiring sight I had read of many times before, in the ‘Book of Ezekiel’, of the Old Testament – the Cherubim.

They were four creatures in human form, but each of them had four faces and four wings. Their legs were straight, and they had hoofs like those of a bull. They shone like polished bronze. In addition to their four faces and four wings, they each had four human hands, one under each wing. Two wings of each creature were spread out so that the creatures formed a square with their wing tips touching. When they moved, they moved as a group without turning their bodies.

Each of these creatures had four different faces – a human face in front, a lion’s face at the right, a bull’s face at the left, and an eagle’s face at the back. Two wings of each creature were raised so that they touched the tips of the wings of the creature next to it, and their other two wings were folded against their bodies. Each creature faced all four directions, and so the group could go wherever they wished, without having to turn.Among the creatures there was something that looked like a blazing torch, constantly moving. The fire would blaze up and shoot out flashes of lightning, smiting the worshippers below. As the unit darted to and fro in the sky, ever blasting the swarm below with bolts of divine wrath, the corpses of the fallen blazed with a turbulent inferno; and the stink of burning flesh and scales assaulted me, almost causing me to be violently sick, until a furious wind blew over the scene, sweeping away the ashes of the pagan dead, and bringing with it the scent of honey and sheep’s milk. It was then that all four of the Cherubim looked at me, all turning their heads in unison so that one face of each aspect stared directly at me, and all four concurrently and tacitly mouthed the words “Behold, for this is His wrath. Let all know what has happened here, for it must not be allowed to happen again. You and your descendants must tell of this night, lest abominations like this be allowed to despoil His world. This is your charge, young Sarnoch.”

5 Responses to “Dreams from Outer Spheres”

  1. Ruben Gonzalez Wrote:

    Once, in rehab, had a similar experience, “very” similar experience.

  2. Jesus Prime Wrote:

    You’ll have to tell me more about that, man. E=mail address should be inlcuded with this.

  3. Goatman Wrote:

    Wow… Kinda like a cross between “Dream-quest of unknown Kadeth” “The Shadow over Innsmouth” And an alcholhalic interpretation of the book of Ezekiel. *not saying its not original* its excellent.

  4. Dalet Yod Wrote:

    This reminds me of the story of the wheat and the tares. There is much modern humans do not know. We are at a crucial point in time where we must choose life or death. Indecision is in fact a decision for death. Humankind has a creator who longs for their fellowship. If we choose the deceiver, the tare maker, we will be destroyed with his seed. Choose life, choose Christ.

  5. Manasseh Mark Bombeo Wrote:

    Hi. Im glad I found your webpage as it is also similar to what I had dreamed but difference is that I found myself in a peculiar house thats supposed to be mine and it was night. I was with some other people but I couldnt recall their faces, we heard a roarin sound coming from the outside and when I stepped out I saw that I was near a beach and there came a towering tidal wave and then my attention was directed towards the sky where I say all the stars gathered and form a perfect square but was in a diamond position. To be honest it scared me terribly, and after that I woke up with my heart beating fast and ever since, ive wanted to understand what it meant. I hope we can get to discuss about this.

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