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In the Shadow of a Great Dead God

A Vocal+ “New Worlds” Challenge Submission

By Coraline KarimPublished 2 years ago 7 min read

Nobody can hear a scream in the vacuum of space, or so they say. Above falls a fiery black object. It breaks through Earth’s stratosphere and trails the greatest plume of smoke from behind. Its fall sings like a siren, stabbing through the sound barrier faster than light. Smoke builds above and coats the naked blue sky in a gray mask, hiding the blazing sun from sight.

The sand shakes and moves around the footwraps of an idle watcher. Their tinted goggles hold onto their beige head wrapping; the lenses protect their unseen eyes from rampant sands. They remove the gloved hand that shades their eyes as the sky becomes shadowed. They watch calmly as the distant meteor falls. The barren sand desert screams from the sudden winds, tan specks of porous grain fly towards the artificial night, reaching towards the falling colossus.

A roar beckons from it. As it grows closer, the watcher looks forward and sees a formation of sand a hundred meters away swirling towards the black meteor; the sands thicken into a tornado-like form, growing in desperation to catch the meteor’s fall. The winds push against the watcher, flailing their fitted garbs which protect their covered skin.

As the smoke and fire thin around the falling object, it can be seen as not a colossus, or a giant rock, but a black pyramid. Reflective and glossed, its three-sided form targets the rising sand swirl and crashes into its pocket. A heavy cloud of dust bursts from it, bringing a fast concussive wave of sand and wind towards the watcher, knocking them on their back and into a black sleep.

Bare feet shuffle against smooth floors.

Wake it up, it must witness him!” loudly whispers a strained voice.

Something fragile shatters.

“Damn it, Lonx, get it together,” says a different one, this one sounding aged and deep. “We mustn’t embarrass ourselves around this planet’s guest.”

Someone’s sweeping. The sound of a waking trash compactor can be heard coming to life, and the crunch of glass fades to silence.

Get another vase from the closet, and wake the damn thing up!” commands the strained voice.

A strong scent seeps through the head wraps of the watcher and into their nostrils, jolting them awake, their upper torso instantly rising. The watcher places their gloved hands behind them onto the floor for support and looks around at the human-like beings. They are nude, bare, with a lack of genital distinguishment. Their bodies are somewhat different in stature, with some bearing large upper bodies and squared bottom halves, and others with slimmer torsos and wider hips.

The shortest being with neither large upper bodies nor wide hips rushes towards the watcher, just inches from their face, staring into the watcher’s goggles while holding a glass vase full of green congealed matter.

“I wonder what you look like, hee hee,” says the short one, their skin wrinkled and spotted by brown circles. This one’s voice is unfamiliar, and their strands of black hair end at their lower back.

“Lonx!” yells the deep and aged voice. This one’s slim, and their skin looks smooth and young. They have wide hips, veiny hands, and broad shoulders.

They look toward the watcher and say, “I apologize for Lonx.” They walk towards the watcher and pull Lonx away from them. “I am Lemma, the pilot of this ship,” they say while gently pushing Lonx behind them.

“Don’t mind Lonx. They mean no harm and are merely curious of your species,” they say reassuringly.

The watcher remains silent, observing the two other beings in this jet-black ship full of screens and buttons. There is a tall being, their body toned and muscular, with large thighs and arms. Their skin is like charcoal, as are the rest.

The other being apart from the three is the biggest. They’re a mountain compared to the tall being, reaching as high as seven or eight feet. Hair covers their body, their back is hunched over, and their face is covered by an oval mask. It juxtaposes the ship with its pure white color, and a light emerald green trim around the edges. There are no openings for their eyes or mouth, but two slits in the middle are present for what the watcher assumes to be there for their nose.

“What is happening?” asks the watcher in a dumbfounded tone. Their voice is quiet and soft, yet a subtle strain in its sound makes it out to be almost abrasive in nature.

Lemma smiles warmingly. “The Great Dead God has come to save this world,” they say, walking towards the biggest screen in the black marble-like ship cockpit. “Maldios; Gardenkin; The Undefiler; The Great Dead God,” says Lemma, their eyes tearing up as they speak.

Their face is also very human: thin yellow eyes, a small downward curved nose, and full lips. Their cheeks are a faint rosy in their charcoal skin. Even their ears have that inward curvature as most humans have.

“Ah! The X, Berhnatoldt, introduce yourselves, please!” exclaims Lemma, turning to the two beings.

The tall, muscular Berhnatoldt turns towards the watcher and raises a hand. “I am Berhnatoldt,” they say in a soft and light voice. Berhnatoldt’s face is chiseled and defined, with a peaked nose, wide, open yellow eyes, and thin lips.

The watcher nods in response, their expressions still covered by their wrappings.

Hi,” says the supposed The X in a strained voice, and then they turn away.

Lemma stares at the watcher, waiting. “And you are?” asks Lemma.

The watcher coughs and pushes themselves up to their feet.

“I… I’m not sure. I forgot what my name was,” says the watcher in a sullen tone.

Lemma looks around at their peers and nods. “Totally normal, trust us. We will name you… Prima,” says Lemma gleefully.

The watcher nods in response again.

“Now, we must prepare ourselves for Maldios! Everyone to their stations, now!” commands Lemma.

The four beings meet in the middle of the cockpit, resting on their knees in unison.

Lemma looks up towards Prima. “Prima, we need you in the middle. The Great Dead God must read your programming to understand the life that lived on this planet,” they say.

Prima listens without any resistance, not even questioning Lemma’s statement, and joins them in the middle. “What is happening?” asks Prima again in a more curious tone.

The four in unison raise their right index fingers, the tips glowing yellow, with traces of electricity running along their fingernails.

“We can only rebirth dead worlds with at least one living and breathing lifeform, Prima,” says Lemma as the four beings trace a perfect circle around Prima, each drawing one-fourth of the shape.

“Thanks to you, this planet may have a chance to live again,” they say as the floor glows and hums in a stream of golden yellow.

There’s a brief warmth that flows inside of Prima. Then it’s gone. The four look above themselves towards the ceiling. The matted top rumbles as tiles appear, flipping over and becoming transparent, revealing the distant sun, fading smoke plumes, and a giant, shadowy figure floating above the ship, deep in the stratosphere.

He is here…” says The X.

“Hee-hee,” giggles Lonx.

“The Great Dead God,” says Berhnatoldt in wonder.

“Gardenkin, give life!” screams Lemma, and a giant roar shakes the ship.

The fading smoke plumes dissipate immediately, and they each watch through the transparent ceiling as the blue sky turns gray. Heavy clouds colored like smoke cover the world above them, leaving an opening for the colossal shadow in the sky. Streaks of yellow lightning trace around the clouds, their thunder aching Prima’s ears.

“Come, Prima,” says Lemma, holding their hand out for them. “The rains won’t touch you - it only grows on what isn’t alive.”

Prima holds onto Lemma’s hand willingly, and the others trail behind the two as the floor continues streaming lights of gold and yellow. Lemma places their hand onto a wall, and it opens to reveal the Earthen world. Sand whips around the ship, and the thunder grows louder. The gray clouds are like mountains spanning across other worlds; the only blue in sight is the sliver that reveals the colossal shadow.

“BEHOLD MALDIOS, PRIMA. GARDENKIN; THE UNDEFILER; THE GREAT DEAD GOD!” yells Lemma through the deafening winds.

An object the size of the pyramid ship falls before us. A giant toe crashes. Blood flies from the mutilation, the spew of it hitting the group but somehow missing Prima.

“He has paid the price of rebirth,” says Lemma. “Now may the rain fall onto this barren world and grant it the life it once lived.”

The yellow lightning grows more frantic and aggressive, continuously wrapping around where the colossal shadow floats. Then it stops. Only briefly. Only for a moment. Everything is still and quiet. Idle. Nobody moves. Nobody speaks. They each stare into the sky. Then a pained roar fills the world. Prima lets go of Lemma’s hand to cover their ears, dropping to their knees in exasperation. They scream in terror, in pain, yet the others continue to stare into the sky.

The streaks of bright, blinding lightning return to the clouds, attacking the sands around them. A thunderous boom follows and the world shakes.





The loud storms give birth to a red rain. Each raindrop screams on its way down, hitting every visible spot of sand. The four beings are covered in the heavy rain, the red creating a whole layer on their skin. Yet the red rain dares not land on Prima. Their beige garb is clean and untouched. They remove a glove from their hand and raise their cupped palm, and the red rain still misses their brown skin.

As the four beings stare at their mighty god, Prima looks towards the colossal, dismembered toe; the blood is gone, and bright green flora has taken its place. Lavender, daisies, tall green grass, and even a growing palm tree surround the toe. And the red rain which falls and stains the four beings before Prima seeps into the grains of sand that cover this world. And like Prima, the growing green plains around that toe are untouched by the red rain, becoming greener and greener from every surrounding blood drop.

artificial intelligencescience fictiondune

About the Creator

Coraline Karim

Hello! I am a transgender woman (MtF), and I write fantasy/fiction/poetry reflective of my past, present, and hopeful future. What I write is ultimately for me: it's therapeutic and self-assuring, though please do not let it hold your own.

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