Extract from TOM O’KELL & THE PAPANUK

Images of skeleton warriors, devilish demons and phantom ghouls swirled around Tom’s mind against an inky black darkness coating his senses. Gruesome spectres and bent old hags cackled threats and curses. Floating behind, in this dark nothingness of horror, Tom saw Mayakula with his arms wrapped around the body of Kamushka, the Mountain Lion, twirling and spiralling in a slow motion escape from the pack of leathery winged demons chasing them. Far to his side, the Papanuk tumbled and turned, quickly pursued by an army of vampires and gossamer winged Narcons, the large sabre toothed fairies from Hell. Sinister images and insane laughter whirled round and round Tom’s consciousness, twisting and squeezing the fear rushing through his imagination. The darkness intensified, ghostly fingers pinched and nipped at his body, even though he didn’t have one. Tom was just an invisible entity of thoughts and senses snared in this dark nightmare swarming around him.

Below he saw a small speck of dust then another and another, spiralling, swarming. He moved closer to inspect these minute flecks only to be amazed to discover that they weren’t specks of dust at all, they were in fact miniature versions of himself. There were millions and millions of tiny Tom O’Kells swirling together, twirling like a giant corkscrew trying to bore a way out of this all consuming blackness, its darkness and morbid dread pressing on all sides like a giant vice slowly squeezing the last dregs of hope and life out of his existence.

Tom’s consciousness followed the swirling mass twisting and twirling faster and faster, leading him away from the macabre phantoms and fiendish demons frantically clawing empty space and screaming blood chilling curses, in their efforts to shackle his soul to a life of eternal damnation.

In the distance Tom could see a faint glow spinning hypnotically, drawing the throng of tiny bodies towards its epicentre. Nearer and nearer loomed the swirling mass until Tom could see that it was a gigantic galaxy, billions of stars and celestial bodies slowly revolving, roaring, turning, funnelling the swarm and his consciousness into its depths, surrounding him in knowledge and  thoughts from an infinite intelligence. Suddenly Tom whooshed through the twisting bending vortex of energy travelling at speeds he didn’t know existed, filling his mind with a complete understanding of life and death and rebirth. Tom’s consciousness pulsated through the huge throng of identical clones, hitting them with a gigantic shockwave that crushed and merged the tiny replica atoms into one.

Tom thudded onto the grassy earth.