Some bird watching from above. Pitches slowly left, then right. A grand view of space and mammoth clouds, gray and blue and horrible. There is no sky, only a bleak embodiment of loneliness or sadness. Only clouds, piled one on top of the other. Each bigger, solid, thicker than the last. Unmoving, they only hang there, glooming at what was once Earth. The vision swoops down like a camera close-up in a film, slowly, evenly, shifting just a bit on an angle to the right as it nears the surface. Images of great frozen landscape, the clouds seem to tumble and fall over the edge out of the farthest reaches of our eyes. Think endless. It is endless in my mind; Lovecraftian. My stomach drops in a plunge toward minute dots that are men moving into a pitched valley. The valley is like Moses parting the red sea, as if God had memorialized the deed. The sight line dives, dives, dives the dots becoming larger, fuller, real, and soon gone; into the mind. The perspective twisted; the bird but a dream. Now, I am the narrator. The singular voice.
It was all foggy but we'd been walking since I could remember. There was no way to tell time. There was no sun or stars or anything like that. It was cold and we kept our heads down. We kept our feelings to ourselves. I wasn't tired. Wasn't ever tired. I'd long since given up escaping this frozen hell it seemed. I couldn't remember why anyway. I just walked on.
Joe was up ahead of me. We walked in single file and there were seven, no, eight of us now. Who knows how many there had been at the beginning, I couldn't tell you. Joe was adorned like all the rest of us, like a medieval Viking; a ragged body under some heavy fur animal hide, hood and jacket. It appeared to be wolves coat, a gradient of brown, white, gray. He carried a heavy pack and leaned as heavily on his walking stick, tripping and dragging himself through the snow. He made no sounds of struggle or fatigue.
The descriptions of the others up ahead and myself taking up the rear, like I said, were the same. Our faces were meaningless, and altogether hidden under folds of dried leather and matted fur. We held our own identities inside. Or whatever was left of them. More of the landscape was coming into focus.
We'd entered into the valley sometime ago. Maybe forever ago. But suddenly it was new, altogether different. The walls were higher, fiercer, older (?). They leaned like crashing waves left motionless throughout time. We were directly beneath their sheer icy, unclimbed walls. They rose hundreds of feet into the sky. I could feel that we hadn't reached somewhere like this before and IT was on us before we'd realized. Now we'd have to make our way through.
It was a wasteland God dammit. There was a sense that something had happened here-- important, great, terrifying--that maybe something was still happening here. There was death, the power of it. Like God had dug the place out himself, with one great sweep of his hand. I stopped and set my pack down. Removed my hood. It was as though everyone up ahead could feel the thing slide from my head. They stopped and turned one by one, Joe first and at regular intervals, each person ahead of him in order. Some I seemed to recognize, some I did not.
Unconsciously I raised my arm as if drawn by some damnable sense of sudden awareness and pointed to the cliff face. Inside were millions of dark objects just now coming into focus. The longer I pointed the sharper, the clearer, they became. Millions of sharks, twisted teeth and crystal black eyes. We watched them in silence, like a laboratory experiment, like a mass. There was something awesome in their existence, sacred, something horrible. How long had it been since we'd seen life? I didn't know. How long since we'd eaten? Slept? Rested? Spoke? It was all the same. We were no longer bodies able to contemplate these things. Or we weren't, until these sharks. They brought it all crashing down.
"Shit," Joe spit. It was jovial though. Ah, maybe not, I had felt like it was at first. He hadn't spoken in a long time, it's possible he'd forgotten the emotion he was searching for. Shit, the same for me then listening. My ears were hollow and old. His face was hard and his stare was harder, sadder, blank like the void of the clouds, like the bone of the earth; pearly white. There was nothing like life in his eyes. His beard was overgrown, had long since become his face. I was sure mine was too by now.
I felt a power in this place. A connection running through my feet, hands, face. I was not afraid. Yet. I was burning up. These sharks were the harbinger of some great god ruling on earth. A truth. We were bottled up. The sharks unable to move watched us with lifeless eyes. I'd heard that before, somewhere across time.
"Shit," It was Tommy this time. his hand held above his eyes. He caught us each one by one. "Sharks, Jesus. They're so many...what'a we...?"
But the only thing to do was to keep walking.
We did just that.
The bird again, this time low to the ground and traveling well in front of us. A mountain in our path, black and ancient. Circling, circling, making out the shape. A great Killer Whale. Larger than it should be. We were dwarfed by its hulking mass. Only its back and fin made it to the surface. There was too much below to even fathom. The creature swung around steadily and met my eyes again.
We were standing next to it. Christ, it was nearly as high as the walls. I prayed we wouldn't be able to see its eyes. Its teeth. Anything that would give life to its form. I stuck my walking stick into the ground. It had been a long time since I'd felt the cold. If indeed it was cold at all. We were standing by the things face. Each of us alone. For the first time the ground felt unsteady, different. Less...concrete.
I turned my head to face the direction in which the beast must have been hurling itself. Two larger bodies, breaking the ground like submarines of some lost era appeared there. Had always been there I guessed, but crashed and heaved into my mind in that second of realization as if moments ago they had raged to the surface. It was like walking on the street you grew up on with your head down and suddenly there's a 100 story building in front of you. I gasped and the others turned to face it.
Whatever image of ourselves and the solidity of this world we had before we'd turned was gone. We were nothing. The sharks were only the beginning, the orca, a continuation. These...whales were the end. What did it say? They were infinite beasts frozen in terrible waves. The world below us is an abyss meant to drown our paranoia. We edged closer. Something was different. I felt I could see their skin-- rippling, alive, and a blue so deep it was black against the gray hungry sky. The eyes followed us. They were alive. For a millennia or more trapped, enraged, snarling, longing, waiting within their icy tombs. Suddenly we were forced around them. I could not escape that one piercing eye. It was trying to say something, what I did not know. But some force would not allow me escape.
The ice was crumbling in my mind. However long our world had suffered this fate, I knew we were at its precipice, unprepared, but compelled to drop. The ground was giving way. We had come all this way in single file torment, through time immemorial, forgotten past lives and homes and golden sun, we had come all this way to find these beasts, to bring about this change. I watched the other's faces that were my face, no different, the environment had seen to that. I was off balance on one foot, falling toward that eye. I felt Joe smile, or maybe it was someone else. I wasn't ready to know, and there was not time enough to ask.
There's no use in vocalizing the apocalypse.