"Alex, this is unbelievable!"
William gazed in wonder at the colors sparkling around him. The sunlight streaming into the entrance of the glacier ice cave painted a living watercolor of deep blue, white, and turquoise.
Alex and Kelsang, their sherpa, joined William.
"The first view will stay with you forever," Alex softly said to his little brother. "Come on, Will. We have a lot of ground to cover."
William took one last awed look about him and turned to follow the other two.
As the sunlight receded behind them, the men turned on their head lamps. William fell into step beside Alex. This trip was a dream come true for William. He had lived for his older brother’s stories of his explorations and was excited to finally be joining him. Kelsang was leading them to the interior of the cave, a cavern called the cathedral, where Alex and William would be exploring.
"He sure is quiet," William mused.. "He hasn't said a word since we entered the cave."
Alex turned his intense blue eyes to William.
"That's because this glacier is sacred to his people. He’s one of the few allowed to guide explorers to the cathedral, and only on certain days of the year. I was on a waiting list for years! It’s said they hear the voice of their deity from the glacier."
"What does it say?" William asked.
"How would I know?" Alex answered with a sardonic smile.
As the bright lights from the head lamps hit the walls, William noticed streaks of black and purple running under the walls and floor. Pointing them out to Alex, William mused, “They almost look like veins, huh?”
Kelsang glanced back at William but said nothing.
The pace the sherpa set was relentless. After five hours of walking, Alex quietly conferred with the guide.
"Kelsang says we are close to the cathedral," Alex informed William. "We’ll rest here for a few hours."
After a simple meal, William leaned back against the cave wall and closed his eyes. Not accustomed to the intense exercise, he instantly fell asleep. In his dream he was standing in a cavern, surrounded by a soft violet glow. A low murmur reverberated around the cavern, just at William’s hearing range. He listened deeply trying to understand the words. Sinuous black and purple tendrils gently caressed his skin. The feeling wasn’t unpleasant at first, but the cold was so intense that it began to burn. A tendril wrapped around William’s neck and slowly began to squeeze. The low murmur crescendoed to a deafening statement.
William yelped as he jumped up, slapping at his neck.
“What! Will, what happened?” Alex exclaimed.
William looked at his hand. A faint glimmer of black and purple stained his hand and an aching burn lingered on his neck. He looked around bewildered.
“I...I’m not sure. I fell asleep and thought something touched me,” he explained.
Alex laughed good naturedly and slapped his brother on the back.
“You’re just a little disoriented. It happens. Let’s get going. The movement will help.”
William walked quietly behind Alex, a disconcerting feeling growing as the hours passed. Alex, unaware of William's unease, kept up a monologue of the stories he had heard about the beauty of the cathedral, until the darkness of the tunnel gave way to a violet glow emanating in the distance. William felt a jolt of panic at the sight, but silently admonished himself that it was only a dream.
“This is it, William. The cathedral!”
William hesitantly followed Alex, only vaguely registering that Kelsang had fallen back to the rear. The brothers pushed their way through the narrow opening into the cavern and as they emerged into the cathedral, they heard a grating squeal and turned to see the opening had somehow closed. Turning in a circle, trying to make sense of what happened, they noticed a pool of viscous black and purple sludge rippled in the center of the cavern with tendrils of the sludge reaching out across the floor and up the walls. The toxic stench from the pool hung heavy in the air. As the men watched in disbelief, the pool began to swirl and a humanoid form emerged. The sludge flowed from its body leaving behind tendrils of black and purple veins along the entirety of its body, which was the texture and color of the ice of the cavern. Its intelligent eyes, undulating with ribbons of green, orange, and blue, focused on Alex and William. William took a step back, dizzy with fear, and heard Alex whisper, “Oh my God.”
The entity smiled a mouthful of daggers and William heard the words from his nightmare.