Okay, so I may have lied about the “twice as long” thing. But hey, an update’s still an update!
I wake up in the afternoon to a handful of messages from August. “Dude. Call me. Dude, give me a call. Dude, we’ve got to talk about last night. Call me, man.”
Still half-asleep, I fumble for my phone and call him. “What’s going on, man?” I mumble. “What’s the word?”
“Did you have the dream?”
My eyes snap open and my mind sharpens like I just took a hit from a popper. “Yeah,” I say. “Yeah, I did.”
“I think the shit we’ve been hearing about Ceph is legit, man. I took some more when I got home last night, and I was just sitting in my room listening to the music, and man, I swear to the gods, it was like I could hear voices talking to me. Instructing me. I could feel my mind expanding, you know? I could actually feel it. Dendrites and neurons and axons reaching out to each other and fusing and just growing, man.” He pauses, inhales, exhales. His voice catches in his throat, like he’s just finished a run, and I can see him. I can actually see him as if he were sitting in front of me, eyes unfocused, pupils dilated, tongue running over his lips.
The son of a bitch. I hate him. He had more Ceph, and he kept it all for himself.
“Is that so?” I ask him.
“Yeah, man. I can feel my mind expanding. I can feel the world expanding. The gods speaks to us in our dreams because Father waits dreaming himself.”
I blink at that. It cuts through the anger I’m feeling. “Father?”
“Father. Did the Herald not tell you about Father?”
“Herald?” I mutter. I can see this being in my mind’s eye, an angel ten feet tall with silver skin and six wings and eyes as black as the void of space. Gabriel for the new gods. I shake my head, as if that will clear the image from my mind, but it doesn’t. Those cold, vacant eyes stare at me, judge me. I run my tongue over my lips and speak anyway. “There wasn’t any ‘Herald’ in my dream. No ‘Father.’ Just the woman from the rave. The one with the metal studs. The… the…” The word Sigil comes to me unbidden. I don’t know why; I only know that it is right. “The Sigil.”
It is August’s turn to be silent for a moment. “The Sigil came to you? You saw her?”
“And yet you did not hear the voice of Father’s herald. How strange.”
“And yet Father’s sign did not deign to appear to you. How portentous.” My words are not my own. They belong to the gods, and I know instinctively that they will cut August to the core of his being. Sure enough, I hear him make a choked noise on the other end of the line, a suppressed snarl, and I smile. He is weak. He is a fool. The gods would never choose him, no matter what he thinks.
I need more Ceph.
* * *
I spend the day pacing my apartment like a caged animal. When night finally falls, I stalk the city streets. It is early still, and I know that to the people who are still out, I must look like a vagrant, some transient pacing and muttering to himself. A madman, But I am not. I am not. My mind has never been clearer, the path before me never sharper. This world is a garden, as the Sigil revealed to me, and I am a gardener. It is time to pluck the vile weeds that would impede the growth of the chosen few.
Most people don’t shine at all. They are less the unworthy; they are inconsequential. They haven’t seen the world that Ceph reveals to us, and they likely never will. I see a woman walking with her children, a little boy and a little girl, and I think, “Oh, your time will come.” But that time is not this day. I am not interested in mere vermin.
I am hunting blasphemers.
I can sense one before I can see them. A sensation gnaws in my gut, a revulsion in the face of the profane, and though it pains me, I follow it down the filthy and diseased arteries of the city. After much searching, I find them. Two fools, a man and a woman, dressed like they’re going to one of the raves. The man shines ever so faintly, and to think that such an individual has taken Ceph, has been touched by the gods however faintly is detestable.
“Baby, trust me. You’re going to love this. It’s like nothing you’ve ever experienced before, believe me. It’ll change the way you look at the world,” the man says.
“Yeah, I’ve heard that before.”
“I’m serious, baby. It’s like… like our whole lives we’ve been seeing the world wrong. But once you take this, you start to see it right..”
“Where’s it from?”
“I’ve heard it’s from Egypt. This buddy of mine, he says that…”
Their words collapse into nothing more than the buzzing of insects. I follow a little ways behind them, and the woman is so oblivious, the man so wrapped up in himself, that they have no idea. I recognize the area we’re in, though, and I know the club they’re surely heading to. There will be others there like them. Unworthy. Blasphemers. Apostates.
There will be Ceph.
In a single location, I will be able to tend to the garden and to my own appetites.