I slip the key in, and turn it. It turns easily. Some mornings it doesn’t. Some mornings, it doesn’t turn at all.
They can hear me as I make my way down the stairs, and those that can start making noise, trying to get my attention. I used to think they knew I was coming down here before I did. Now I know it. Sometimes I think they can even make me come, even if I don’t want to. I try not to think about that part. I don’t know what it would mean.
I flip on the lights at the bottom of the stairs, and they come on, brightly for a change. Figures. I don’t really want to get distracted before I can make my way to the back, but, again, this place seems to do what it wants to, regardless of what I might want. It’s always been that way.
My footsteps don’t echo as I make my way down, between the cages. There’s many of them, stretching off into the distance. There’s a cage for everything, and most of them are empty. The ones nearest to me, though, are most definitely full.
The small Chinese boy to my left just stares at me, silently. Sometimes his gaze is a smoldering anger, sometimes a mocking sneer, but this morning, it’s just blank. I let my eyes slide off him. He’s not the one I’m here for. I make my feet keep moving.
There are others, down this corridor. Some of them don’t make any noise, some of them are loud. Some of them might not even be living any more… and for some, I don’t even care.
I keep walking. I can see a dim green light from one cage, glowing liquid in a tube holding a dark shape within. I know he wants me to think about him, and I do, sometimes. It’s enough to keep him alive, the only food in this place. He knows I’ve seen the way he ends, and it thrills him. He knows how important that is, and that I won’t easily let that type of thing go. He’s right.
Others aren’t so lucky.
I pass cages with misshapen things, things that throw themselves at the bars, howling, demanding tribute, demanding thought. Sometimes I do, which is the only reason they’re still here, still alive. Things that don’t have the energy to move as I walk by, they simply quiver, gelatinous, on the floor. Some don’t move at all, slowly turning back into the dust that they came from, never to be thought of again.
I shake my head. Some days I make it to the bottom of the stairs and am overwhelmed, by the noise, the cages, the sense of creation that I get from being down here. Sometimes I’ll just stand, transfixed, for hours, and not really do anything before I pull myself back up and outside. They hate those days the most. So do I.
Not today, though. Today I steady my pace, walk past the cages, past the psychic, past the monolith, a tentacle snaking up around it. I walk past the ball of energy that makes up the human race, past the living ship. These don’t interest me today. I make my way to the back.
It smiles up at me from the table it lies on. I smile back down at it, pulling out my pen. I can sense the others quiet behind me as they see it. They know. Soon, soon it will be done.
“Soon, soon it will be done,” I write on the thing on the table. The words glow, and slowly fade from view, absorbed into it. It grows, becomes more defined. It chuckles, happy, and I am happy as well.