“RE: The Dark One, In Case It Should Arise from Its Horrible Abyss”
by Luc Reid
Thank you for standing in for me during my temporary leave. I know it’s not a duty you’d take on if you had any choice, but I appreciate the effort regardless.
The procedures I follow aren’t well documented, as I’m pretty much always around to do them myself. Actually, I haven’t taken off more than two days in a row for about seventeen years now. I wouldn’t be taking this vacation either except that my brother, who ran a necromancy business in the Nomad Kingdoms, had an accident I don’t much want to talk about and is now in danger of permanent reanimation (and I don’t mean in a good way). After his funeral, my family being what it is, I’m going to be stuck hunting down his shambling corpse and destroying it. It isn’t how I’d choose to spend my summer, but I shouldn’t complain: it is a vacation.
As to the Dark One: of course there’s no reason to worry it will Arise from Its Horrible Abyss any time soon, but obviously it’s essential to be prepared just in case. You must have some idea from your work with the Disaster Mitigation department during that Volcano Spirit incident what kind of Hell there’d be to pay if It Arose, provided you understand that a Volcano Spirit compared to the Dark One is like a trickle of piss in a raging sea.
My first advice to you in the very unlikely event It Arises is that you immediately sacrifice thirteen virgins. Virgins will not stop the Dark One, but they will slow it down. You won’t be eager to take this step, I’m sure, especially since Bernie down in Exhumation has already told me you’re dating one of the virgins. If you’re especially attached to her (or him), I’d suggest depriving her (or him) of her (or his) virgin status as soon as possible so that she (or he) will have to pursue another line of work—otherwise you could have a conflict of interest on your hands.
After the virgins, you could either have a Vortex conjured or else release a couple of Greater Djinn. As you might know, it’s more or less a wash between the two options. Either way, if things work out, It gets crammed back into Its Awful Demesne. Unfortunately, and please keep this to yourself, as the Higher Ups aren’t interested in having it spread around, our actuaries don’t put the chance of success for either approach much higher than 20%.
Don’t under any circumstances be tempted to use both the Vortex and the Djinn. If a Djinn should get caught in the Vortex, it would wind up in the Abyss and begin casting Foul Entities out, which you can easily imagine would be a complete public relations faceplant for us.
If the Vortex or Djinn don’t work, I’m afraid we’re about out of options. Technically we’re supposed to try some self-immolators, but honestly, I don’t think they’re worth the gasoline they pour on themselves. From my point of view, at that point you have to just call it a failure, file all of the proper paperwork, alert the Fell Guard, and hope for the best. Our best projections suggest that It will not stop until It has destroyed virtually every living thing in its reach, which extends at least 180 miles—unless, of course, it should encounter the Chairman.
As you may or may not know, the entire reason It is inclined to Arise from Its Terrible Abyss is that It feels the unnatural presence of the Chairman in the mortal world as a kind of perpetual irritant. Of course, you and I are professionals and would never compromise the Chairman’s safety simply to save our own lives and those of everyone else we know, so I don’t even need to remind you to take special care not to let anything happen to the Great Seal that would keep The Dark One out of the upper floor offices. For instance, I’m sure you already know that even a small blow from a gold hammer that has been blessed by a priest of the Unbearable Light would crack that seal open like the crust of a crème brulee, so I won’t go out of my way to mention that, being confident that you are as dedicated as I am to keeping that seal whole.
There is such a hammer in the lower right-hand drawer of my desk, so of course please don’t let that fall into irresponsible hands.
If The Dark One were to encounter the Chairman, I can’t predict whether It would consume the Chairman and return to Its Abyss or if the Chairman would Obliterate It. In the latter case, there would of course be some very unpleasant fallout for whomever might be considered responsible for the encounter in the first place, but I hardly need to tell you that.
There are also some important Wards and Quiescences that we cast on the Abyss every Saturday at midnight, which we suppose probably have been keeping It from Arising, though we know that It will eventually Arise whether we Like it or Not. It’s possible I may have forgotten to jot those down, in which case . . . oops! I am, of course, still in mourning for my brother and both mentally and emotionally overwhelmed, so I can hardly be held accountable if I forgot a few details.
Regrettably, I’ll be unreachable during my vacation, and in fact will already have turned off my phone by the time you read this.
Help yourself to the butterscotch candies in the dish on my filing cabinet. Best of luck.
Luc Reid (Twitter: @lucreid) writes fiction, non-fiction, children’s books, and plays. His stories and articles appear in venues like Abyss & Apex, Clarkesworld, Daily Science Fiction, and The Writer. His first book was Talk the Talk: The Slang of 65 American Subcultures, followed by The Writing Engine: A Practical Guide to Writing Motivation, Bam! 172 Hellaciously Quick Stories, and the novel Family Skulls. Luc is a Vermont native, the founder of the Codex writers’ group, and a second dan black belt in Taekwondo. He writes and speaks on the psychology of habits, writing, and self-motivation techniques and has posted hundreds of articles on those topics at lucreid.com.