"We have made a covenant with death,
and with hell are we at agreement...."*
Also better to serve in Hell
than die in Heaven....
Did you hear her screaming,
half the galaxy away,
Silt grated under our struts,
A wind so strong we swore its taste bled
through our protective suits
rocked the ship. Icarus stumbled.
no, I don't remember whom
A fissure, a gash, a rupture cut deep into the crust,
as if some giant's hand wielded a scimitar against the
An odd concept, don't you think?
The earth of Z'ha'dum...
The earth of an alien planet,
And I held it in a gloved hand, let it crumble
between my fingers.
Did it scream?
Or was it a silent wound?
A well, gaping into blackness, the depths shielding
secrets, tempting us, tantalizing us...
We were a scientific mission.
Seekers. Scientists. Hunters. Searchers. Curious.
Curiosity killed the cat.
Our instruments, silver and black,
cautious dainty delicate extensors
long needle-like eyes and fingers
reached into the chasm.
Silence. A long silence.
A wind drowning all our
An ebony well,
darker than a black star.
Fire and pain.
Fire and pain and knowledge...
"Hot as hell".
I still laugh at the words.
Hell--a place so frigid
the cold consumes you.
an arctic fire raking your skull open,
axes with frozen blades striking
rending flesh and bone
brain and heart and soul...
They wakened. They rose.
They offered us a choice...
They offered eternity
one way or another.
Eternity, power, knowledge,
a universe where we walked beside Them--
The stars paled beside Them
as They rose from their forgotten graves in sheltering dark
turned crimson eyes to the star-littered sky
and offered us--the choice.
I heard them dying,
in the dark, the frigid desert.
Tell me, hero, would you
cling to your sentimental
pride, nobility, ethics...
the giants rose and stalked you?
you have condemned your wife
to die like that...
An animal writhing, begging to die...
I heard them.
I heard them.
I hear them... still...
First, I served.
Then I learned.
Now my presence increases, my influence
rises like the smoke from the chasm.
I am Shadow and Substance.
I watch you
and laugh where you cannot hear.
Your petty schemes,
your little mongrel alien pet
what does Delenn offer?
your plans and posturing
drop into the rift, the black hole of failure
once you destroyed a Black Star
by trickery, tactics of misleading.
The Shadows exist outside time, outside reality...
Into the dark, the ice-enlaced dark
where no song, no light
And you threaten me,
you death-frightened, light-blinded
shaking your little fists against the Shadows
climbing the walls with needle feet...
Pathetic infants struggling to light feeble candles.
Eternity dangles beyond your fragile fingers.
Eternity in hell,
eternity in the dark.
I reach above you,
I hold the universe in my hands,
Shadows spill over my fingertips.
I hold the universe in one cupped palm,
and pinch out the little star-flames
as I please.
Dark. So dark.
The light dies,
and there is nothing
with which to warm myself...
*Isaiah xxviii. 15.
-- Deborah Laymon
(This first appeared on the Babylon 5 fiction mailing list <email@example.com>)