The Queenrift

Sometimes the dangers of a wide and wild universe can be controlled and contained. Sometimes it is only by luck that we are not destroyed or changed beyond understanding.

There are malign and careless influences from both within and without our typical frame of reference that present an existential threat to the world as we know it. But where the terrestrial dangers usually adhere - even if somewhat flexibly - to the strictures of what is generally and consistently considered to be possible, there are some threats that come from stranger and more distant shores where no such rules apply. Whatever and wherever their origins, such incursions place an unsustainable stress on the physical and the conceptual integrity of our reality and they must be cut out before they become something systemic, something that could do lasting and irreparable damage to the very firmament of everything we hold true. Sometimes these invasions are bold and violent, the thrust of a knife intended to do terrible harm, others - like the Queenrift - are of a more insidious nature.

 

It was a winter’s day in the mountains of the High Atlas, Morocco, when a tremor gently shook the ground. An inauspicious omen, such a slight sign for something so significant, but enough to draw some people from a nearby village to check that the passes and paths had not been closed by any potential rockfall. They could not have expected to find what they did; a cliff face riven by a jagged open scar roughly five metres across and bleeding a sickly green light into the air. Carried on and carried beyond the light there was a presence, a soundless voice that nearly deafened them - that spoke itself over their sense of themselves. Later, they found themselves in their homes and in their beds, unsure of quite what had transpired and how they had spent the remainder of their days.

 

That night each and every one of them dreamt of that green light and the wordless voice, its irrefutable and irrefusable majesty. They saw visions of its world, a teeming blood sea where all living things were extensions of its will, drones serving its singular agenda: To spread itself further and become all that was and that ever would be throughout its entire reality. Those who slept were nothing to it, tiny beyond notice, but they were caught in its raging currents of thought and were dashed on them like waves on rocks. It gave commands carelessly, implanting imperatives until their wills were confused. In changing their thoughts, the chemical and physical makeup of their brains began to change as well, and they awoke not as themselves, but thralls in service to the alien consciousness that bled through the Queenrift and into our world.

 

The tatters of broken identities struggled to make sense of what they had become, what they were becoming. They were extensions of something else’s will but, perhaps because they were so different to everything it had compelled before, traces and elements of who they had once been - and how they understood the world - remained. Over the following weeks they contrived and schemed to trick and take others from the village to the Queenrift, to offer up everyone they could as more eyes and more hands to serve their new master; a master they referred to as their Queen. As their numbers grew, the echo of the will that passed through the Queenrift became stronger, began to change them more quickly and more severely. Nothing could pass physically from one world to the other, but the emanations affected everyone brought within their reach.

 

Even before the last of the villagers were subsumed into the living, indomitable will of their new Queen, the first of them had started to outwardly show signs of their unmaking. Ancient and unused potential was being unlocked through wild, uncontrolled mutations set in motion by the strange energies that came from the Queenrift. Bodies already somewhat neglected - so different from the forms known to the will that guided them that they had barely known to eat or sleep beyond those times when some animal survival instinct forced its way through the fog of compulsion and into action - atavistic qualities budded and blossomed, came to the fore. Before long they looked wrong, less than human, as each person became a uniquely gory terror; insectoid and reptilian and avian by turns, every branch and splinter of the evolutionary tree vying for dominance and creating shambling horrors in their conflict.

 

Unable to pass for what they had been, they could not begin to entice and entrap people from nearby settlements in the way that many of them had been led to the Queenrift. Those who could - many were so shambolic and ruined as to be nearly immobilised by the extent and aimlessness of the changes to their bodies and their minds - tried to drag people away to be converted by force. Their mutations, being more often ungainly and flailing than advantageous, they were usually repelled, with word spreading quickly through the region of what had befallen their neighbouring village. With the animus that drove them unaccustomed to such frustrations, they pulled away and fell back to the Queenrift. In its presence, the physical changes accelerated; bodies already strained by the exertion of constant cellular upheaval began to fail and fall apart, losing what little cohesion they had, and began to necrotise and putrefy.

 

The inadvertent incursion, an unintended invasion, had faltered and failed after just a few weeks. In its wake there was only an abandoned village in the mountains and local warnings not to try to get close to it and, around the Queenrift, a few dozen piles of bones stretched and twisted into unnatural and unsustainable forms. It stayed that way for more than a hundred years, until the site and story were rediscovered in 1910. The Queenrift was inert, no light and no alien consciousness pushing to take over the minds and bodies of those unfortunate enough to get too close. By general consensus the site was razed with fire, the ground poisoned with radioactive materials and then the rockface that bore the rift was collapsed with explosives. Questions as to how the Queenrift was formed, where it connected our world to and how, remain unanswered.

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