My eyes are different when they open this time. They open but there is nothing to see. I hunger.
This is too strange. Am I buried alive? Hold the panic… think… experiment.
My eyes have the ability to shift from picking up light waves to picking up heat waves, as well as both at once. Faint light is coming from some places, and the heat sources are shimmering.
A dinosaur-sized bat grabs my body in its huge mouth before I know it’s coming. I plunge my wing blades into its head where eyes would be if it had eyes. None of the dino-bats hovering around do. Damn! I’ve got blades on my – wings?
The monster bat cries out, its pained reaction releasing me to fly away. I hover as it convulses then dies in mid-air, plunging into the lake eight seconds later. The other treacherous terrors take off into blackness.
The body of the dino-bat drifts upon the colorless lake, motionless, when a huge eel surfaces biting into a wing.
Seeing the eel stirs hunger in me and without a thought I plunge for the meal.
I swoop upon the eel clasping talons into its back. Its wriggling mass rips away, great hunks of meat torn off in my grip.
Will this satisfy my hunger? Intellect interferes with instinct over concern for the wounded animal. What should I – would I – do if this body wasn’t hijacked by a 21st Century madman? Is it right to let the eel suffer? Has what I’ve already done killed it – or is it now in agony and vulnerable? I have to stop thinking. I’ll know what to do if I just let go…
Then I notice I won’t have to follow up at all because the eel is paralyzed by the sting from a deadly tentacle of a jelly whale, a giant blob extending stinger tentacles in all directions to its sides and beneath. It’s consuming a dozen of these eels at once, slowly reeling them into its maw.
I fly away with my meager prize of meat, knowing that I must consume this raw treasure before others come to take it from me. My body glows with full bio-luminescence. As I return to my nest I willfully reduce my self-illuminated exterior until nothing is left but a dull infrared glow.
If I had come into this world when my trans-planetary adventures first started I might have tried to kill myself. As it is, even with the experiences of the last three months, riding out this horror show is spooky. This is definitely nowhere I want to end up getting stuck for years.
Slugs the size of pickup trucks slither across the great walls, their slime trails shimmering in my alternate vision.
I fly, swoop, dodge and soar. The world has walls, a floor and a ceiling. It has no Sun and no Moon. It has no stars. I would never know that such things exist had I not been a man on Earth’s surface…
…For whoever I am on this world, I’ve never seen anything but this underground universe. And I’m an underground eagle.
My walls are far apart. It takes me hours to fly across the chasm from one side to the other.
My ceiling is high. To fly from the floor to the ceiling takes many hours. My world is a great chamber of upside down mountains, vast waterfalls and mineral lakes invisible in utter blackness. My world is damp and hot with pressures denser than anywhere on the planet’s surface.
Back home people think they know Earth. It’s the ever-shrinking world, fully mapped from pole to pole, every cove and continent outlined, isn’t it?
Earth. What we don’t know about it at this point doesn’t seem to matter to most Earthlings. They’re satisfied that all the great frontiers have been crossed, that the basic relevant scientific principles of Earth’s behavior are discovered.
Humanity’s problem is that we’re always most concerned with ourselves and what our Earths can do for us or to us. But Earths harbor secrets beyond our everyday concerns.
Our urge to settle down keeps our pace of geocentric discovery sluggish.
And our physical limitations restrict most of our interests to what we can easily experience, the surface of the planet; but even then only within a range of a few thousand feet above and below sea level.
Not me. Not here. I live in a world of crystalline insects.
My talons can crush stone and snap bones.
My wing blades can cut through iron.
The black fog hangs between the floor and the ceiling.
I am a creature that humans would never believe in. I have access to (10 to the 300th power) universes at once, able to focus on any one simultaneously. I am a being outside of time…
…and an Underground Eagle, too.