The Great Unknown

on May 3, 2011 in Horror

There in a temple carved from solid rock a mile and a half above sea level was a pedestal, and on that pedestal sat a book. A man with sunken eyes and a haunted, hunted look paused at the entrance to the elaborately decorated artificial cave, his eyes adjusting to the gloom. A dim shaft of light from an opening somewhere higher up the slope somewhat illuminated the tome.

“That is it?” the pilgrim asked his guide, the priest. “This is what I came for?”

It was said to be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. So, too, would it have been difficult for a rich man to come to this point. Impossible, really. The same was true for most poor men. But an extremely rich man had options, and this man had spent freely, passing from very rich to very poor in the process.

“That depends on what you came for,” the priest told him, the last of the man’s money tucked away inside his robes.

It was a large sum, by his reckoning, but a small one compared to what had been expended in the search that led the seeker to him in the first place. He had not been seeking the priest, the temple, or the book originally… he had not known of them. Half his fortune had been used up seeking answers that no one could seem to give him. He’d chased after hints and rumors of wise men, fortune tellers, and oracles, and though some had produced what surely qualified as signs and wonders none had been able to help him.

He’d met a woman who knew what the next day would bring as surely as he knew it would start with a sunrise, but she hadn’t known what he needed to know. He’d met a man who could communicate with angels and said he knew all the secret names of God, but he had not been able to help. He’d seen a child who had been counting aloud backwards from four hundred million something from the moment of birth, every waking moment, taking exactly six seconds per number. The child had been no help at all.

And then, just when he’d been almost ready to give up all hope, word had reached his ears. There was a book, the word said, and this book… this book…

“Tell me,” the formerly-wealthy man said. “Tell me again.”

“Before you is the book of the never-known,” the priest said. “It holds the things that no man knows, things no man will ever know. I have told you this before.”

“And it has the answer I need?”

“I do not know that,” the priest said. “No man does. No man will.”

“It must,” the man said, staggering towards the book. “The answer must be somewhere, and it isn’t anywhere else. I’ve been looking so long. It must… it must… I know it!”

As the man’s outstretched hands drew near the book, a single shot rang out in the tiny cave. He took one more staggering step, lurching to the side, and then collapsed.

“I told you,” the priest said, putting away his gun. “No man will ever know what the book says.”

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3 Responses to “The Great Unknown”

  1. zeel says:

    And he didn’t see that one coming how?

    “No man does. No man will.”

    Dude, listen better in the next life.

  2. tigr says:

    “A man with a sunken eyes”: superfluous ‘a’.

    By the way, do you still get the two prompts a day from Jack? If so, I’d be curious to know what they were for each story, so it’d be great if you could add them to the bottom or so :)

  3. Greenwood Goat says:

    Blimey, I thought it was going to be a bolt of lightning, illusory floor, mind-destroying content, extraplanar entity with a taste for flesh, something like that.

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