“Messy, messy, messy!” The black-haired man howled in distress as he dashed about. All around him, bottles and vials of brightly-colored liquids bubbled away as his elaborate chemistry setup continued its work without him. He paused as he came to a pile of papers and tore into it, eagerly searching every sheet until he found what he sought.
Triumphantly, he held it up to the light. Finally, the formula was clear. He looked around and mouthed several names as his tired eyes landed on different compounds. His cracked and chapped lips moved rapidly, but silently as he gathered the various liquids from their places on the chemist table. He turned off each of the titration nozzles and reduced all of the burners to their lowest settings. Carefully, the dark-clad man set the ingredients in a line, then dashed off to a closet.
“Messy!” The man threw open the door and spotted it– a black, cast iron cauldron. It would have to do. With a grunt of effort, he pulled it from its resting place. He blew the dust from it and gave it a rough scrubbing, then dried it thoroughly, hopeful that it didn’t have too many nooks and crannies to retain water.
Shaking hands dumped each vial, pitcher, and bottle into the cauldron, and he looked around for something to stir with. He saw nothing, so reached in with his arm and stirred with his hand until he saw flowing globs of blood swirling lazily in the compound.
Finally, he withdrew his hand. It was covered in sores and burns.
With a tiny whimper, he collapsed as he gripped his arm at the elbow. His teeth ground together as he closed his eyes tightly.
When he opened his eyes, the sun was already set, and his stirring arm was only a cauterized stub. His black robes were sticky with blood and dissolved flesh and bone.
Sobs fought their way from his throat, and he swallowed them as he forced himself to his feet, only to sway, close his eyes, and nearly fall before he caught himself with his good hand on the warm cauldron.
As he felt the rough metal, his eyes slowly opened through the pain, and he spotted the contents. Slowly, his eyes widened. Somehow, he got it right! He looked out the window. His time was limited. It was almost midnight, he was sure.
The black-haired man quickly filled a beaker and drank the caustic liquid.
His innards were on fire.
Again, he drank. Tears welled fresh in his eyes, and his nose stung like someone poured acid through his nostrils.
Again and again, he drank. Sweat began to soak his dark clothes, mingling with his melted arm’s remains.
More and more, he drank down to the dregs, until his face was red and he began to shake. His nose ran faster than he could wipe it away on his sleeve, and he used his remaining hand to scoop the rest of the mixture into his mouth.
Once downed, he fell to the floor and gulped for air. His insides churned and burned, and he began to feel it ready to come out the way opposite it went in. Gingerly, he clenched and walked to a boarded window. With an aching, burning hand he gripped a metal stick and used it to pry the window open.
As it opened, air hotter than the potion singed the man’s hair and clothes. The sun was too large, and the moon was too small.
It was midnight, and it was almost too late! He had no time to recover his energy, and even the new energy from the potion was not enough, he knew. With wide eyes, he looked down at the base of the tower. Yes! There it was! He leapt down and gripped the pole that stood out of the ground.
His legs refused to move after the painful landing, but he didn’t need them anymore. Legs were a luxury during the apocalypse. He gripped the pole tightly and rested his sweaty head against the slowly heating pole. It burned his palm and head, and its growing glow soon blinded him. He turned his eyes toward the sun and felt its intense heat. It was getting hotter. He was almost out of time.
With his hand rapidly blistering and burning onto the pole, he began an incantation.
“By Hateful Pr’yntaei! By The Laughter Of Geiseu! By Horrid Zantenag! By The Ten Reliquaries Of Failer! I Invoke Neicet! I Invoke Serene Jocidoea! I Invoke The Six Suns Of Uthalari! I Invoke The Ninety Moons of Nicorall!” Each word burned his already broiled mouth. He continued, even as his tongue began to falter. “I call on the immortal powers vested within me by my own foolish hand– leave me, oh plague and oh pain! Leave me, oh life and death!” He wheezed. “Unto the world, I grant all of my body, all of my soul, and all of my mind and heart and every life to come after this miserable incarnation!” Blood welled in his throat, and he vomited onto his hand and the pole.
“Elabel!” He screamed to the heavens as he pulled on the ley line attached . All became silent. The screams of the dying in the distance ceased suddenly. The sound of exploding trees stopped. One tree swelled, but stopped mid-explosion, with chips of wood paused in midair. Suddenly, everything reversed. The tree mended, and more zipped back together. The screams reversed, and in the distance, he saw a formerly fallen man rise.
Time moved backward.
The man in black groaned as he watched everything around him reverse. Only he and the pole in the ground remained still. Age lines creased his face, and his flesh began to sag. His hair grew rapidly and became white, then fell out as his face became hollow-looking.
His eyes rolled back, and he fell with a clang against the pole. His hand became skeletal, with flesh stretched over it. Finally, he sank slowly with the metal rod into the earth.