The candle-lit room smelled of old pine, musty books and dust, a comforting assault on her senses. Dim light and silence were an enjoyable change from the bustle of jealous and loud colleagues. Wrapped up in a silk dressing gown and a wool jacket, she glimpsed through the telescope. Each planet and star glowing faintly through the glass.
"Little star, little planet, where are you? Are you close? Are you far?" She sang to herself softly. She always wondered what exactly she was looking at through the telescope and if humans would ever be able to travel into the sky to find out. In the meantime, she stared peacefully at the tiny glowing spec and enjoyed being alone in her lab. As she relaxed and the tension of the day gave way to exhaustion. She pulled over a wooden chair. She just wanted to stay a bit longer. She was jolted awake as her head suddenly drooped forward. She rubbed her store neck.
"Oh, how silly I fell asleep sitting up." She sighed.
She got up from her chair to snuff the candles and get ready for bed. However, the far corner of the lab caught her eye. She stared into the darkness of the corner for a moment, unsure of why she felt drawn to it.
Then it flickered.
Her head snapped over to the corner. It must have been a trick of the light or her eyes. She stared into the darkness again, but nothing happened. Out of curiosity, she walked over to the telescope. It was pointed toward the flickering corner.
"This is ridiculous," She said out loud, angry with herself. "I've kept myself up too long, and I'm tired. That's all it is."
She thought she saw movement again. She turned, her heart beating quickly. A feeling of deep dread washed over her. No matter how much she believed, it was nothing. She was glued to the floor next to the telescope. She stared into the darkened corner for what seemed like ages... nothing.
Just as she was going to turn away, it flickered again, wobbling briefly like a flag caught in a sudden and violent wind. She stood in disbelief.
"I must be still asleep," she muttered, moving away from the corner and tripping a little over her nightdress.
She moved closer to the window, putting the telescope between her and the strange corner. To her horror, the telescope swivelled on its own, pointing itself toward the corner. The eyepiece pointed at her as if to say...
She swallowed the rising fear, her heart now drumming wildly. Fear spread, hot and quick through her system, churning her stomach and catching her breath. On the verge of tears, she grabbed the stem of the telescope.
"There... is ... nothing .... there!" She gasped.
She looked into the telescope's eyepiece and screamed in shock. She hardly saw it, a gaping hole as though the seams of the room had been ripped apart, before jerking her head back from the eyepiece to look at the corner with her own eyes.
"This is impossible... "
There's no way she could look through the telescope and see the room as it was, as though she was looking through a window. It was supposed to magnify objects at long distances. Frustrated, although still terrified, she mustered up her courage.
"I am simply tired, nothing else." She shouted as though she was telling everyone in the room. The fear still burning, she began to gather herself up, hoping reason would temper it. Yet... yet she needed to look again. She needed to confirm if that's really what she saw. She paused, looking at the corner and then looking back at the telescope.
She rushed over to the telescope and looked in the eyepiece without hesitation.
What she saw took her breath away, but she was determined to get a good look. She saw the rift again. It shimmered as though it could flicker out of existence at any moment. Beyond it showed a desolate landscape of black stone and shale stretching into infinity. It was devoid of all life at first... not even trees or plants existed in the world beyond the corners. She stood fixated.
After a few minutes, a large and hulking form loomed before the portal. She let out a small cry of fear. She looked away from the eyepiece and at the corner. It seemed unaffected. She looked back into the eyepiece.
The looming figure was coming closer, and now she could see details of a terrifying face consisting of what seemed like 100 eyes, bloodshot and yellow. They blinked and stared in different directions. The form itself was a deep blackish-green skin over a bipedal body that seemed to have bat-like wings. She couldn't help but think she had seen this entity before, somewhere in her past.
As it came closer to the edge of the portal, her heart raced, and panic flooded her. Abandoning all reason and logic, she sprinted past the corner and out the lab door and down the hall. She kept running until she reached her room on the 3rd floor and slammed the door shut. Breathing heavily, she tried to fight the panic down.
"Go to sleep. This is a sign you are tired. In the morning, you can call your good friend Elias and tell him all about the silly things you imagined. He loves that nonsense!" She laughed nervously to herself.
She tossed herself into bed, wrapping herself in the blankets like a cocoon. She shut her eyes and tried to calm her breathing.
"It's just a waking dream." She whispered meekly.
Her eyes flew open as she heard a thump from the direction of the lab.
"It must be one of the cats." She whimpered and pulled the blankets over her head.
Thumps like giant footsteps followed down the hallway, heading toward her room. She could hear paintings on the wall rattle as it came toward her.
"You're dreaming," she assured herself.
Any moment now, she would wake up!
The shock of the bedroom door flying open under force made her scream with sheer terror. With the blankets still over her head, she couldn't see anything, and she didn't want to see anything. She wrapped herself tighter and tighter, gasping when she realized it was the thing squeezing her tighter and tighter. She felt herself being lifted and crushed, her head already spinning and dizzy as she struggled to breathe. Terror burned at her chest.
As fast as the fear had come, it left her as she relaxed into the looming darkness. She felt herself falling, but she didn't have the energy to fear anything anymore. She felt so drained and so very light. She drifted into unconsciousness. Relieved.