The Space Beyond Our Sunset

It is under a moonlit sky that I write these words, which are sure to be my eulogy by morning. Please, dear loved ones, understand that the ending of my own life was not to be my fate, nor was it even a thought glanced upon for consideration until a most horrible spiral of events drew shut a heavy curtain of blackness over what was once an outlook so optimistic. This blackness is pockmarked with stars, and a source of wonder for so many, yet the nighttime sky now only fills me with a dread so consuming that the mere thought of evening sickens me to my very core. Please take not my words as the fantastical rambling of a man gone mad with warfare, but read with diligence, taking care to remember my prestige and position at the University of Oxford as credit to my sanity.

It was in the evening that I took to my telescopes, as I often did, to observe that beautiful sunset that graces our skyline with its wonderment and grandeur. Yet, my eyes beheld a horror so monstrous on one faithful twilight that I can no longer bear the burden of living, for the knowledge of sharing an existence with such a foul and loathsome entity brings me pains far greater than whatever death will soon take me. Context must be gained on your part, for my credibility's sake I suppose, that you may understand what would bring a man such as myself to begin such an arduous journey that suicide will be.

It was early in the war when I first caught a glimpse of the Great Horror, as I have taken to call it, for from my filth covered ditch in the Somme I observed the thing lingering around the sun. It was after a hard days fighting, we had made an attempt to sally forth from our lines and rush the German guns just a few hundred yards east of our position. We were met with bullet and shell as we went over the top, all manner of firepower bearing down on us as we crossed no man's land. The Hun could not hold us, for our numbers were great. We took to their trenches and began the bloody business of close-quarters combat. I myself will not speak of the things I did on that black day, or the way that those actions weighed heavy on me in the months that followed, but I will say that the horrors of war were not a bane to my mental condition as they were to so many others that shared the battlefield with me. I made sure to distance myself from the memory of my actions and the actions of my fellows, and though one can hardly separate himself for the night terrors that so very often follow the inflicting of death upon another, I did what I could to ease my inner turmoil.

That evening, I took my small telescope and looked to the sky. Those beautiful and distant stars served to comfort me, reminding me that my conflict is a small one when compared to that infinite distance of night. Yet, this evening I looked long on the space beyond our sunset, for the most curious abnormality could be found on the edge of waning day. Some dark mass, a shadow against the great light, seemed to move so slightly before finally fading from view. Perhaps I had witnessed the end of a transit from some small planet or comet, perhaps I had seen the motion of an asteroid as it made its final approach on the sun before impacting the surface. I was so unsure, but so perplexed as to what I had seen that the remembrance of it never left me.

In the nights that followed I would always seek out that anomaly, but I would find nothing. Over the passing of years I had seen it again but one time, during December, if my memory serves me as I think it does. I was determined that once the war ended, and I could return to my sophisticated instruments at Oxford that I would find out what I beheld and record my findings for the scientific community. What a thrill! Could I be the one to discover a new planet, perhaps name it after myself or collect some prize for my achievement? How grand a thing it would be, that I could write my name in the astronomic history of Europe as the one to discover whatever thing I had found.

Later on, much later on, we went over the top once more against the Germans. This time I was not so fortunate, and a machine gun round found my knee cap, ruining my leg. The field hospital I was taken to had found serious infection in the wound, and had to amputate. My war was over, and though my injury was serious, I was thankful that I could finally return home. Immediately I went back to my instruments, eager to get to work on finding out what exactly I had beheld through my small telescope on that evening in the Somme.

At twilight, I went to work. My most powerful telescope was in position and I was ready to make a detailed observation of that thing which perplexed me, yet when I looked and saw in detail what had once filled me with wonder, I was stricken down with such terror that no man should ever understand what I endured. I saw it clearly, so distant yet so detailed in its form that I could only guess at how truly huge the thing must be. Its blackness was an undulating and terrible mass of inhumanity, writhing in its evil motions. Tendrils of spinning and swirling convulsions were warped around a most indescribable object of most cruel creation. It had no set form, but pulsed in so unnatural a manner that it seemed to breath. It had a face, I think, and the notion that this Great Horror was living and conscious is so terrible that I can bear the thought no longer. I saw eyes on it, I saw its hungry, terrible eyes as they looked down on me. I knew it saw me, somehow, I knew that it was well aware that I had observed the truth of its form. Those pits, blacker than the deepest nighttime and more terrible than all the horrors of war, sat motionless on a vortex of tendrils all curling around themselves in a most disgusting manner. It was made of hatred and malice, made of terror and revulsion. No thing such as this should exist, and it only leaves my mind to wonder as to what else exists in that great outside beyond our atmosphere. I know not what else is out there, but I know that humanity is so small, so infinitely frail against whatever else lurks beyond our sunset, and in this knowledge I am broken.

I shall make to end my life now, I think. I am ready to be rid of this thing that waits at our sun, watching forever the motions of our world. What it wants, I do not know, but I dare not take a guess at what such a terror could do to us if it took the notion to move beyond its dwelling in the sky. I want to never find out, and shall make sure I never do.