The Story of a Lifetime

📅 Published on June 4, 2023

“The Story of a Lifetime”

Written by Alexander Grayson
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
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There was no coming back from this point. That was Micheal’s only thought, as he ventured deeper into the jungle. Humidity was something he was more than used to coming from Australia. But the insects, oversized trees, and bushes were something else entirely. The thick muddy slop that could be considered ground gave way under each boot press. It was midday now the heat blazed between the canopy of trees above him. Each sunshaft that cut through the treeline sizzled away at his skin.

His editor had finally given him the freedom to pick a story, his years of slaving away doing puff pieces and meaningless local dribble had paid off. Here he was halfway around the world about to get the breaking story that would land him a Pulitzer prize. No one had noticed the patterns he had over the last few years. Increasing storms across the coasts of Southern America, each one forming closer to land than the last. Until this one, which had formed right in the heart of the Amazon itself.

This in itself was nothing out of the ordinary, it was the fact that this storm didn’t move at all. It seemed to form and dissipate in the same spot. Luckily for him, his friend worked for the Bureau of Meteorology and like him had a fascination for things that seemed otherwise unexplainable. The tip and timing of his boss’s relaxation on the reins was the perfect catalyst for Micheal’s ascension into journalistic glory.

All he had to do now was find the damn spot the storm had happened. He had been wandering around the jungle for what must have been hours. His GPS had stopped working before he had even left the main road. Now it was just him, a map, and a compass. Not the most ideal of circumstances, but it was the best he was going to get. Nothing would stop him from getting this story.

The undergrowth grew thicker the further he moved toward his goal. The humidity only got worse, so Micheal knew he had to be getting close now. The sunlight was starting to dim, but not from the time of day, he could see a thick bank of clouds beginning to form overhead. Even between the trees, the darkness enveloping the sky was evident. It wasn’t until the tree line started to give way that Micheal noticed the ground was eerily dry. Despite the torrential storms and rainfall registered in the region the ground itself seemed parched and thirsty for more. The occasional pool of water in between some roots in a ditch was all he could find.

Now from between the rows of trees, Micheal could see the clearing perfectly. He had expected lush vegetation and mossy grass to fill the space, but it was dry dirt with occasional pools of murky water. Micheal smacked away more mosquitoes and other insects that thrived on the stagnant water. Their hunger for his blood was almost insatiable, as with each swipe their numbers only multiplied. He pulled out a can of insect repellent, which would normally be used to spray the air around you, but instead, he layered it all over his skin to act as a barrier.

There was no sign of life here, except those of the insects. The clearing continued further than he could see through. It appeared to go on forever with no sign of an end on either side of him. All he could see behind him were the rows of trees he had emerged from. After consulting his map and compass this part of the forest hasn’t been properly explored, so there was every chance it simply hadn’t been discovered yet. The realization of exploring an as-of-yet unexplored section of the forest made his discovery even more tantalizing. Not only would he get the story of a lifetime, but he might even find a new species of animal.

The trek became markedly easier now, he wasn’t contending with roots and muddy ground. Instead, it was a flat land of small potholes and puddles. Strangely he carried on until he could no longer see the tree line behind him, but found nothing. Even if this area hadn’t been explored fully, surely satellites would have picked up on this massive empty swath of land. There was no use to think about it now, he only had to carry on further. With the clouds completely blocking the sun, he could no longer tell the time of day, if he didn’t have a watch, he would be sure it was night. As he lifted the watch, he was sure it was only early afternoon, but somehow it was nearly ten at night.

Bugs and nightlife noises began to lower and eventually disappear entirely. There was nothing left, but the thump of his footsteps, and the low thrum under his feet. It started when he first entered the forest, which wasn’t entirely unusual. One of the locals described it as the beating heart of the forest. An apt name given it seemed to be and flow like a heartbeat. Now though with the noises of everything lowering it became clearer. As he walked onward the thrum seemingly became louder.

The lingering sunlight jutting through the clouds gave way to inescapable darkness. Micheal turned on his flashlight, which seemed to almost be swallowed up by the surrounding abyss. It barely shone a few meters in front of him. He gave it a few smacks to make sure the batteries were lined up, but it simply flickered slightly and lit up the same. There was nothing wrong with the torch, but he felt something was wrong with the night around him. It wasn’t cold, it wasn’t even humid anymore.

With as much haste as he could muster Micheal dropped his satchel and rolled out the components of his tent. He hadn’t intended to stay the night but had come prepared regardless. A small tent fit for one, and enough food and water to last a week at least, if he rationed well he could last two. The tent took no time to set up, and he climbed inside, zipping it up behind him. The safety of the soft walls felt like a warm home. He calmed his nerves and wrapped himself up in his sleeping bag. Despite the lack of cold, or warmth, Micheal couldn’t sleep without a blanket or something on top of him.

The scratching from outside the tent jolted Micheal awake. He didn’t move, as he sat there and listened to it. At least three distinct sharp claws were being dragged over his tent’s outer shell. He couldn’t hear any footsteps, and given the lack of light, he couldn’t make out a silhouette either. The scraping traveled around his tent before finally stopping at the zipper. A small jingle, whatever it was, grabbed a hold of the zipper. Micheal slowly reached for the torch with the hopes of using it as a weapon. After a few tense seconds, the zipper stayed where it was and the scratching ceased.

Micheal lay in the sleeping bag for hours waiting for whatever it was to come back and breakthrough. Maybe it was waiting to ambush him when he left, or maybe it didn’t care and had simply moved on. Whatever it was he wasn’t going out there to find out. He was safe here, at least he kept telling himself that. It wasn’t until a few small beams of sunlight could be seen reflecting off the edges of the tent that Micheal could muster the courage to get up. A gradual move to the edges of the zipper was all Micheal managed. There wasn’t any noise coming from outside the tent, so surely the creature had left with the sun’s rising.

Surely enough his fears were assuaged when at last he opened the tent to an empty expanse of well-lit dirt. The tent was only open far enough that he was able to crawl out, but Micheal moved on all fours into the spongy earth beneath him. After pulling himself up to his feet, Micheal looked around and noticed the entire ground was damp. Despite being up most of the night, he didn’t hear a single drop, but if he didn’t know any better, he could have sworn it rained.

“The moisture confuses you.” A voice came from behind Micheal, which startled him into almost falling back through his tent. “Please my friend, I bring you no harm. Only the comfort of guidance.” The soft voice came from a tall older looking man. His wrinkles folded over themselves so many times there wasn’t a single patch of flat skin. “Your time here will be fraught with more perils if you continue aimlessly. Please allow me to show you the structure you seek.” He turned and began walking back the way Micheal was sure he had come.

“Just let me pack up the tent,” Micheal called out, while he picked up his rucksack.

“You will no longer require it, I assure you.” The man waved his hand back at Micheal and simply carried on.

Both of them walked on in silence for a while, until Micheal couldn’t hold back the urge to barrage the man with questions any longer. “So who are you? And why are you here? Also, how did you know I was here? And where exactly are we going? I don’t even really know what I’m looking for, so how can you know what I’m looking for?” Micheal vomited the words out without any care to have the questions answered before asking the next.

The old man laughed with a small cackle before stopping to look at Micheal. “Did you not realize, I can give you all the answers because I know exactly what is going to happen.” He pulled the skin back on his face making it taut. It took Micheal a moment to have the revelation of what he was looking at.

“How is that possible?” He asked as he rubbed his eyes. “You, you’re, I mean I’m, well me.” He stumbled over the words.

Another laugh from the old man, “Yes, and stuck here for so long, but we’ll fix that, I hope.” Old Micheal said. He carried on walking, each step seemed more of a struggle than the last.

Micheal, still frozen in shock, had to shake himself back into the moment and ran to catch up to himself. “But how is this possible?” He asked again.

“All things are possible here, as far as I can tell, we’re not in time anymore.” Old Micheal said wistfully looking up into the clear sunny sky. “We’re cursed, or at least this place is, and we, or you, or me, whichever you want, was stupid enough to come here. Chasing that damned story. Well, it’s here, and you’ll tell it.”

“So there is a reason all the storms were moving towards this area and just holding over this one spot?” Micheal said as he followed slightly behind Old Micheal.

“That is where your questions will be answered.” Old Micheal pointed towards the horizon and a glistening pyramid loomed just breaching the tip of their view.

Micheal squinted to see and noticed the golden tip of what he realized would be a massive structure. “How did I not see that when I came in?”

“You couldn’t, you weren’t ready, you needed to stay here and be one with it, then you would be ready. Ready for the lessons.” Old Micheal’s voice seemed to fade away with the last few words, as Micheal was distracted looking at the horizon.

He turned around and he was alone again. Every direction was empty. Was all that a figment of his imagination, or was it him from the future? It couldn’t have been, could it? He made a mental note of their conversation to write down later. One of his best qualities as a journalist was his ability to create notes in his head, instead of needing to write things down. He imagined a notepad writing the words down, and his memory kept every word safe till he needed them.

It took a few more hours before Micheal made it to the base of the pyramid. It was colossal in scale, which made its placement here all the more perplexing to him. How had he not seen it? Or better question how had no one picked this thing up from space? It was so large he couldn’t see the edges of it. It blocked out the very sun as far as he could see behind him. The silhouette of the shaded sun beamed around the upper edges.

Without warning or compunction, his feet started walking up the steps. The faculties of his body were no longer in his control with each step he made upward. The bricks layering the outside were chipped and worn with time as if the pyramid was old beyond anything Micheal had ever seen. The steps were uneven and each one was missing a few bricks that had either been eroded or broken away. The winds began to whip, as he climbed. The closer he drew to the summit the more ferocious they became. He felt his hands get pulled down and grip the stonework for support. His body contorted onto all fours to give himself the stability to continue his ascent.

A small hole large enough for Micheal to crawl through was all that awaited him once he had reached the top. He looked up for a moment before his body pulled himself inside. All he could see was the shining capstone of the pyramid, as it glistened in the sun. Then he noticed the sun itself was no longer the yellow ball of light, it was now black and larger than it had ever been. Micheal stared at it for a moment almost lost in a trance, as the black sun looked back at him. There was a shift in the darkness of the sun, he could have sworn he saw something slither across the surface. Before he could observe any further he felt his hands and feet move him into the hole against his best efforts to keep himself out.

Micheal tried to scream, as he felt the stonework give way to nothingness. He scrambled to grab at anything as he hurtled down the abyss of the pyramid. There was a void of noise or light that consumed his every sense. He could feel nothing, hear nothing and scream nothing. It was as if his consciousness itself had been torn from his body and stripped of everything that made up reality.

“You exist here to bring word of the coming beyond our borders.” A voice shattered the silence and pierced Micheal’s mind. “You will experience the transcendent bliss that they have come to share.” The voice continued.

Micheal finally felt his senses return. First, it was hearing, as he could make out the sloshing of fluids, and slapping of skin against skin. Then he could smell the necrotic air that burnt his nostrils. Finally, his eyes came into focus out of the darkness and saw the chamber he was standing in. Despite his initial feeling of falling when he entered, here he stood completely unharmed and with all his extremities still attached.

As he looked around to try and take in his surroundings Micheal made note of the ancient pillars supporting the room. The black marble was etched with wrapping tendrils that snaked their way up toward a darkened roof. Small sconces provided minimal light among the walls, but a larger fire towards the rear of the room created enough light to see a man kneeling in front of it. The fire itself seemed to act in an unnatural writhing as if it refused to die. It danced around the pile of kindling, which seemed too small for the size of the fire.

The man got up and pulled back on the dark hood that had obscured his face. It was another Micheal.

“You have arrived. We have waited millennia or days. Depending on your view of time.” The robed Micheal said. He walked down a few erratically carved marble stairs. “You’re the journalist?” He asked.

Micheal stood there for a moment, unsure of how to answer himself.

“Well, you are Micheal, an accomplished journalist? Here to get the story of a lifetime?” He asked again.

Again Micheal was wordless, as he could not answer.

The robed Micheal laughed with two voices. “How foolish of me, I forgot to give you back your voice.” He unhinged his jaw and lowered his arm into his mouth and down his throat. His neck fattened as the arm lowered down into his chest. He pulled it back out covered in thick bile and blood. His hand held a strange wriggling mass of eyeballs and stalks. The more Micheal tried to focus on the creature the more it seemed to shift into new more fantastical appearances. Its existence was constantly in flux before it latched on Micheal’s face. He felt small hands and fingers grip his lips and pry them apart before they climbed inside his mouth.

Suddenly Micheal felt his voice come back and he let out a scream that reverberated off the marble caverns. The other Micheal quickly clamped his bloodied hand over his mouth to shut him up.

“Take a moment, collect yourself. Then answer the question.” He said in a whisper, as he slowly slid the wet hand off his face. Leaving a thick layer of bile and blood covering his nose and mouth.

Micheal felt his breathing get heavier, as he tried to calm himself from the mixture of emotions swirling inside him. His mind had kept himself together up until a point. He had kept himself locked at the moment, taking note of every interaction, or difference, as a piece of evidence for his story. Now he was being forced to think and probe his mind. He wasn’t collecting anymore, he was recalling.

His pupils dilated, and his chest expanded and contracted with deep uneasy breaths. How had he gotten here? His mind wasn’t his own, he was living inside someone else, as he watched it unfold around him. What was this place? How was he looking at himself again?

“All questions you might get answers to after you answer mine.” Robed Micheal said. “Your thoughts are my thoughts, I can see inside you. Now tell me what I want to hear.” He said again.

Micheal opened his mouth and uttered the one word he could sense he needed to say. “Yes.”

The ground underneath both of them shook, while an echoed cry of unbridled delight boomed forth. It sounded as though it was a gurgled sloshing of orifices spewing forth words in a dialect indiscernible to his ears.

“Their words are not for our ears. You will enter the fire, and they will grant you a boon that you might take it with you in spreading the gospel of their word.” The robed Micheal stepped aside and gestured towards the dancing flames atop the platform.

Their flickering intensified with each step he took, he couldn’t fathom why he was still doing anything he was asked, but he continued regardless. There was a carving behind the flame that seemed to depict a circle spiraling inwards, except Micheal couldn’t find a beginning or end to the circle. It moved on its own as the flames waved around lighting it up, but the circle was endless.

“Your acceptance will come easier if you don’t resist.” Those were the last words Micheal heard before his foot touched the fire and felt his body burn with the intensity of the sun itself. His flesh melted and he could feel his clothes fusing with the sinew under his skin. His screams muffled as his lips fused from the heat.

Somehow he was still alive, despite his body being melted around him, he continued to live. Then he felt something at the edge of his mind creep in. There were no words, only the feeling of complete chaos. An overwhelming urge for violence and death. The pain was overtaken by a deathly cry to tear away at someone’s flesh. All he could think about was imagining some crying fool’s head under his palms, as he squeezed, all the while they cried for mercy. He would give them nothing until their anguished screams were replaced with empty silence.

Everything subsided, and as the emotions of pain and violence washed away like the tide, Micheal felt a void left in their wake. He looked down and there were no flames, only the marble stonework. His body was completely fine, but as he raised his head, he got a momentary glimpse. A flicker of the creature lay just below the crust.

He felt suddenly pulled out into space, as he looked down and saw the planet beneath him. The pyramid itself was now visible, it looked like a beacon shooting into heaven. The crust of the Earth slid off itself like the meat from a well-cooked bone, and it revealed the parasitic horror that was eating away at its core. There was no escape, it was everywhere. Under every ocean, and every continent, it had wormed its way across the globe. The writhing mass of flesh was incomprehensible in size. Its form was beyond his mind to fathom. There were mouths inside mouths, eyes sliding over eyes. All mixed in with endless tentacles and tendrils that seemed to start nowhere and end nowhere. Nothing seemed to be attached to anything, but somehow all connected as one being.

Micheal felt a connection to it as if he was being spoken to, but it didn’t use words, at least any that he understood. He was being shown a vision of a future, that he would help create. It just needed him to spread the word. He would be the herald to bring its word into reality. The formless concept as it was now, but if he could get enough people to think and believe, it would be reality. A reality of chaos and bloodshed. It would unleash the very inner turmoil and animalistic urges that boiled underneath the surface of all living things. None would be spared.

The thoughts and inner desires of the creature permeated Micheal’s mind. His vision clouded over and he felt the cold marble again beneath his feet. The fire was gone, and the chamber was only dimly lit by the wall sconces.

“He has returned, and with him the thoughtless void.” The robed Micheal stood among a group of other robed figures. Each one lowered their hood revealing another Micheal of varying ages.

“We are finally free.” One of the oldest-looking Micheals said.

“He has traversed realities and bent the very fabric of the universe to select you. We are no longer worthy.” The robed Micheal pulled a black marble carved dagger from under his robe. “Together, we will be given the greatest gift, the release of death. You will carry on our legacy. His legacy, and with it, you will live eternally.” He plunged the dagger into the side of his neck and in one swift movement carved along his throat.

One after another they each pulled out a similar dagger and repeated the process. A giant stone doorway of cyclopean design manifested in the void beyond the light of the sconces. Micheal made his way between the bodies of himself, he stepped on and over them with no care. His singular purpose had been made clear, and he would now achieve his ultimate dream.

The doorway opened by itself as he approached. The stonework dragged over the marble which created a terrible screeching noise, as it let in the darkened light of the black sun. Heavy rain beat down on Micheal, as he stepped back onto the solid ground again. He turned back and the pyramid was gone, but the black sun remained. He felt the presence watching him through the darkened hole in the sky.

It spoke to him in an angry tongue of sharp words and biting commands. He couldn’t fight the compulsion to obey it. Every muscle, every fiber, every molecule of his body demanded to listen and obey.

Rain poured over every fleck of dirt around Micheal, but he remained completely dry. Outside of his small sphere of influence, the world was engulfed in a torrential downpour so thick you could barely see through it. In the shadowed edges of the rain, he could see the movement of creatures. His vision strained to see the silhouettes of otherworldly beings swaying and dancing in the rain. Their visage was obscured almost completely except for an outline of tentacles and pincers. Some were small, while others towered over him, he knew they meant him no harm.

His goal was singular, his purpose absolute. He would spread the word, and the word was death. Micheal walked to the edge of the treeline, which was now only a few meters away. His trek back through the forest was uneventful and far easier than before. The rain followed him everywhere he went, and he continued to be able to walk unfettered by heat, insects, or other burdens. Hunger and tiredness had left him completely. He felt nothing except for a burning desire to spread the influence to others.

Micheal wasn’t sure exactly how far the rain outstretched from him, but he knew that it was his goal to bring it where it needed to be. He followed the road back into the small town he had landed in. The inhabitant’s muffled screams could barely be heard in the deluge of rain. He carried on unfazed by the red mixture of blood entering the mists surrounding him. Deep bellows and gurgling sounds began to join the chorus. Their presence fed off the lives they were taking. With each life, they grew a deeper connection to this plane of existence.

He had finally reached the ocean and the deluge slowed to a slight trickle. He peered around but saw nothing. All the noises had stopped and there was no sight of the silhouettes that had massacred everything in his path.

“You stand before the precipice of greatness.” A gurgling voice muttered from below his feet. The sand gave way to scaly and slimy appendages that surfaced on his feet. Micheal could see no sign of a mouth, or eyes, it was simply a bulging mass of scaly flesh. “Long have we awaited the storyteller so that he might bring us back.”

“What are you?” Micheal asked.

“We are but an apostle of the dark star. You can see him in the sky now. You have been granted sight beyond the veil of your reality. He commands us to feed, and you will give us the buffet of flesh we require.” The thing responded. It slithered over his feet and through the sand. No matter how hard Micheal looked, it shifted its form constantly growing limbs or appendages that would instantly disappear.

“And if I refuse?” Micheal leaned down to get a closer at the creature.

It convulsed at his words and shuddered its scales shifting into a dark aggressive red. “You would find that incomprehensible thought impossible to follow. I speak to you now as a courtesy, we need not converse. We need only your body. Your species has the technology to share thoughts without even needing to speak them.”

Micheal pulled his phone out of his pocket and felt compelled to lift it toward the sky.

“You will show the world, you will show them that we are real. We exist again. Relegated to tall tales and nightmares no longer.” The creature seemed giddy with excitement as Micheal hit record on his phone. “Share your vision with the world.”

He felt a force move his arm around and through the camera, he could see the terrors that hid just beyond our reality. With a few taps of his fingers, the video was uploaded to his newspaper’s website. And in a matter of minutes, the view count exploded. There was no response only more views.

“Your species’ insatiable need to consume every piece of media is incorrigible. Truly the world’s first real viral video.” The creature laughed and ascended out of the sand. Micheal was finally able to see its full form.

He dropped to his knees and praised the creature’s unholy glory. It was a beauty he had never witnessed. Somehow it was there, but not at the same time. The shifting forms it took on were more spectacular than the last. He could not fully comprehend how such a creature could exist. Yet here it stood on two, three, or even four legs. The incomprehensible nature of it compelled Micheal to claw at his own eyes. The divinity he had witnessed burned into his mind, as the last thing he ever wanted to see. But tendrils whipped up out of the sand and held his arms back.

“Why would you deny me?” Micheal pleaded.

“You have served, you will be granted the gift of life.” The creature lifted Micheal and pressed him into its body.

The slimy scales melded with his flesh and he finally felt free.

“You will witness the end, and then you will live. A memory of your poor forgotten people. Forever to bear the punishment.” The creature absorbed Micheal fully who screamed in agony as the scales now dug into his flesh and tore at his skin.

His skin burned and his mind rushed with thoughts of every living soul being torn asunder and consumed. Micheal would live on for eternity, as eternity is how long it would take for him to bear witness to every death he had caused.

Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Alexander Grayson
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Alexander Grayson

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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