Most of the time, freelancing for the Unknowables was a simple gig. Track something down. Bring something back. Fix this. Break that. Keep your head down. Don’t ask too many questions because the answers are never going to satisfy you.
But sometimes things got complicated. Sometimes, you ended up surrounded by cultists worshipping ancient gods. Most of the gods didn’t give a damn about who or who didn’t worship them. We were beneath their notice. Tiny crawling things screaming to the void in hopes it might hear us, never pondering it might be better to be ignored. We looked to the stars with dreams of greatness when all along it was waiting to devour us for wanting more than we had.
There was nothing wrong with wanting more. I had dreams. Dreams of living with Mom under the sea, dwelling in the shadow of an indifferent god. The human half of me found it horrifying. The other half yearned for it. But here I was, in a room full of idiots, chanting before an altar.
They weren’t the first to cry out to inhuman cosmic forces, but the problem was that something had heard them. Something horrible.
The man in the black suit stood beside the altar. He grinned. His cruel gray eyes met mine and he laughed. Without him, things would’ve never gotten this far. The human race didn’t have the know how on its own.
The chanting rose, and a thing of twisted, wrinkled protoplasm formed over the altar. The thing struggled to find form. Whatever it was, it probably wasn’t intelligent. Probably wasn’t even sentient. It was just a thing from out of time and space that didn’t belong here.
I approached the altar. The cultists were too involved in their chants to notice. The man in black made no move to stop me. I pulled back the hood I’d borrowed from an unconscious guy I’d hidden in a closet.
I kicked over the altar. The unwelcome thing squealed and collapsed in on itself. The cultists howled and fell, convulsing, to the floor in unison.
The man in the black suit kept smiling. “It was just a bit of fun, Geneva.”
He might have looked human, but he was something else. Something cruel and malignant, who saw this world as something to be toyed with. One day, he might destroy it. Or more accurately, convince the human race to destroy it. Just for a laugh.
“Who sent you?” he asked.
“Doesn’t matter,” I replied. “But they told me to tell you to be more careful in the future. There are forces that still want this world, still need the humans.”
“For now. But what will you do when they no longer amuse?” His smile never dropped. “They’re waiting for you. Down in the depths.”
He was right. One day, the stars would align. The delicate equilibrium would fade, and all the Unknowables wouldn’t give a shit about this world at once. On that day, extinction would come. Or worse. And I’d have to decide whether to join humanity in oblivion or go home.
“Just knock it off for a while,” I said.
The man in the black suit was already gone, off to screw with more desperate souls eager to touch the void. I checked the cultists. All dead. Except for one. A middle-aged woman who could barely stand.
“Are you a god?” she asked as I helped her to her feet and steadied her.
Her eyes were empty. She’d surrendered much of herself in her quest for the divine, and in return, she was left with an emptiness and a burgeoning madness. She’d most likely surrender to insanity within the month.
“Let’s get you home,” I said.
And an indifferent universe just kept on going.