Arfenhouse 3 Edition
A Feature by Paul Harrington and Fenrir-Lunaris

The following is an excerpt from the journals of Horace Alfonse Montgomery, a middle-aged exobiologist whose mission is to observe unknown forms of life in the universe. Horace disappeared on December 18th, 2008. Since he disappeared, encoded messages have been found in deep space. This is the second of those messages.
This part of my journey has perhaps been even more horrifying than the last. Normally, my fellow scientists back on Earth illustrate my reports for me, as my artistic skills are... lacking. However, I do not think I want them to know what I saw here. This journal is a record for myself, a reminder of this time spent in a strange, other-worldly hell. I will illustrate it myself as best I can.

I opened that strange, free-standing door, and fell for what seemed like forever. I tumbled past a strange waterfall; I saw strange hieroglyphics engraved on a dark wall; I saw images of creatures both strange and familiar. When I hit the bottom, all I could see was an endless sea of green. No grass or trees here, but only a sickening, gelatin-like earth. In the distance, three figures were engaged in battle. One was a sort of monster bearing a great resemblance to the pikachu, a type of space rat that feeds on electricity and is considered a nuisance in many space stations. This one looked wrong, somehow. Its shape was ganglier than usual, and its face looked twisted. It reminded me of the mutated creatures that I saw in the last world I visited.

Controlling this beast was what seemed to be a man with a head made of... toast. I do not believe such a creature can exist, even with all of the strange things I've seen. It spoke often, but its words were unintelligible. Still, I thought it would be best to follow these creatures. They exuded a certain confidence, in spite of their empty, soulless stares. I kept myself out of their vision, though there were times that they really should have been able to see me. I suspect their vision was as impaired as their speech.

When I first saw them, these two were engaged in battle with what looked like a great tower. It was several times the height of the bread-man, and had an emblem painted onto its side that seemed to be a stylized image of a mustachioed man with a bowtie. I suspect it was some manner of mechanical defense drone. I admired the mustache greatly. This drone was quickly disabled by the combined violence of the rat and the bread-man. Their strikes were swift and brutal.

I followed the pair as they wandered away from the smoking remains of the tower, and we approached a great, blue castle. Along the way, other small monsters attacked. One was absolutely disgusting; it resembled a living mound of sandwich meat. I suppose it was appropriate in a world where bread could become sentient. Another common type of monster resembled a humanoid face, similar to the ones I saw in the sky in that last world, only this one appeared female. Again, the rat and the bread-man killed mercilessly.

Outside of the castle I saw a man who certainly did not belong in this world. He appeared to be a completely normal human, and his appearance was a shock after the rest of the things I saw in this world. I could not hear their conversation, and he vanished into thin air as soon as it finished. Perhaps a magician of some sort. Perhaps my ticket home.

Inside the castle, the party was joined by a third member, a floating orb which looked like the head of a cat. Its speech was as unintelligible to me as the bread-man's, but the two of them seemed to understand each other easily enough. I'd seen this type of floating-head creature before; it reminded me of the legendary Woo that was known to appear on Walthros from time to time. From what we know, she was a member of a race of supreme beings that transcended time and space, similar to the Q. Perhaps her continuum is the W. Anyway, this cat seemed to be of the same form of life. I desperately wished I still had my ship's energy scanner to diagnose this alien life form.

After recruiting this cat, this strange posse left the castle and wandered another great, sickening green field. I saw a crashed spaceship in the distance which, like the man outside of the castle, clearly did not belong to this world. The bread-man murdered a blue haired male and red haired female that appeared to be human and took his soldiers onto the downed ship. I followed them in.

Guards attacked as these three made their way through the ship, but were quickly eliminated. Whoever these monsters were, they were powerful. The poor soldiers in this ship were able to offer almost no resistance. In the darkest part of my heart, I thought that perhaps I would be able to take control of this ship and use it to get home, but I knew that I wouldn't stand any more of a chance against these killers than the guards on board did. I continued to watch.

In the depths of the ship, a dog appeared that seemed to be of the same type of life as the cat. I was starting to get horribly sick of seeing floating heads. The three did battle with this dog, and then seemed to come to some sort of mutual understanding. The battle ended and they, along with the surviving crewmen, seemed to form some sort of alliance. I was perplexed; the captain of this ship seemed willing to forgive the bread-man for murdering dozens of his troops. They were clearly not Earth soldiers.

Before I knew it, the ship was taking off. Apparently it was not damaged as heavily as I'd suspected. I hid in some sort of storage area, happily devouring crew rations. I fed myself well. Meanwhile, I could hear horrible noises coming from the bridge. I did not want to imagine what was happening there. More violence, I assume.

The ship settled on the moon that orbited this planet. Thankfully, it was inhabitable. We were all able to breathe on its surface with no problem. In spite of better judgment, I followed the bread-man and his three animal companions as they left the ship. Monsters similar to those on the planet continued to attack, but again, offered no real threat.

I followed them into a dark tunnel, where they encountered a strange array of life. One, a human female with extravagant eyebrows, attempted to halt their advance. She was killed brutally. I crouched over her fallen body and wept; she was young, and was not made for battle. The creatures I followed were not honorable warriors; they were monsters. I had seen horrible acts committed by these four, and somehow, was compelled to follow them still.

Their warpath continued. A long haired human male was killed. More of those sandwich-meat monsters were butchered. Another massive robot, this one, ironically, resembling a giant toaster, was destroyed viciously by the cat spirit. There was chaos after this battle. A strange, round man appeared, who clearly recognized and despised the party of monsters. Who can blame him? There were flashes of light, and the cat was gone. The bread, the dog, and the rat battled a woman in a black suit. She was clearly some meant simply to be a distraction. Perhaps the round man took the cat away; I couldn't tell.

Deeper in the tunnel, we found a wooded area. It was unlike anything else I'd seen on this moon or its world, and was a welcome change. The air smelled sweet and clean. Oddly colored cats and rabbit-eared caterpillars roamed these grounds. Strange, tennis-ball shaped creatures rolled happily in the meadows. One of them joined the monster party. I felt safer than I had at any other time since I arrived in this dimension.

In the depths of this forest, the bread-man found a sword. I suppose this was what he had been looking for on his journey. But what's the point? He's already an unstoppable killing machine. Is more weaponry really necessary? After obtaining this item, he returned to the surface and entered the space shuttle. I followed close behind.

On the way back to the Bread-man's homeworld, our ship was engaged in combat with one of the strangest things I've ever seen. A massive man, thousands of feet tall... bearing more than a striking resemblance to a former United States president. With a deafening "ARROOO," he rained destruction upon the land. While the bread and friends may have been monsters, this giant was clearly an even deadlier creature.

Thankfully, a squadron of allied shuttlecrafts arrived and aided this frail ship in its fight against this king among men. After the battle, the Bread-man and the rat were reunited with the re-animated corpses of several people that they had killed on their journey. I was in no mood for zombies.

Also present was the cat spirit, only she seemed to have taken on a lighter color. I have heard of such hair changes occurring when one is under great stress. Poor girl. The strange magician that I first saw outside of the blue castle when I had first arrived in this land was also present. This man accompanied the loaf, the rat, and the cat into some sort of dimensional vortex. I followed carefully, making sure I wasn't spotted by any of the zombies.

I found myself in a strange place, outside of any dimension I was familiar with. I stood upon a great glass roadway, suspended above an impossibly deep abyss. I crawled slowly as I pursued the Bread-man; I was not going to take any chance of falling off.

The pathway led inside a castle, filled with disturbing, round man-statues and red tiled floor. Hideous and tacky. A woman, perhaps the castle's queen, was slain by the Bread-man. I followed the party down a stairwell and into a similarly tacky hall with blue tiles. There were guards here, but they paid no attention to either the Bread-man or myself. Perhaps they too were the living dead. The group defeated an old man in this hall; likely the husband of the slain queen.

The next hallway was full of molten lava. It didn't suit my tastes at all, but at least it wasn't so redundant. At the lowest point of this hall, the Bread-man slew a great, fiery serpent and a young man. The relationship between the two seemed similar to that between the Bread-man and his rat. A shame; in another world, they could have been friends. Perhaps lovers.

The next area was again a glassy roadway in space. It was inhabited by massive versions of the monsters I first saw in the green land below; piles of meat taller than houses towered before me, blubbering incoherent songs of sorrow. Female faces wept in the sky. Strange egg-like birds rolled around on and off of the platforms, some falling for what seemed miles before rematerializing in the space above me. It was a closed system. It was horrific. If this was the gateway between worlds that it seemed to be, perhaps I could find a way home.

Tall, multicolored man-children wandered this land. A disembodied nose drifted by. The Bread-man took shots at it from afar. At the end of a great crystalline stairway, I found the Bread and his allies locked in mortal combat with the strange, round man who had appeared earlier, before the cat spirit had disappeared. It was also his image that was carved in stone in that gaudy castle. This was what the journey was all about; vengeance. I wasn't sure what exactly the Round-man had done to the Bread-man, as their speech was still incomprehensible to me, but the two were clearly long-time enemies. I saw nothing but hate in their otherwise dead eyes.

I saw greats flashes of light as the enemies clashes. The Round-man changed forms, growing sick, spindly legs. The Bread-man began to mold, growing a soft, yellow filth around his head. I watched in sickened horror as they mutilated each other, until, in one final burst of light, they were all gone, and I was left alone.

The crystalline world was now cold and empty. I saw nowhere to go. I sat for a long time, when eventually I heard a light chuckle and the sound of footsteps approaching me. I turned to face the newcomer, and felt the chill of death upon me.

I recognized him. He was the figure that I caught a brief glimpse of by the doorway that led me from the last strange, headache world I wandered to this one, this land of living bread and casual killing. He tipped his gray hat to me, stroked his short, scruffy white beard, and sat beside me.

"Good day, my friend. Did you enjoy the show?"

I was pleased to finally find someone who spoke a language I could understand, but that didn't reduce the suffocating fear that I felt as this man approached me. This gray cloak swirled around him. He was pure menace and wisdom.

"Show?" I asked.

"The death, good Horace! You happily followed the Housemaster as he laid waste to hundreds of innocents. You must have been having a good time, or else why would you continue to watch with such rapt attention?" He sneered. His teeth were a corpse's teeth.

I didn't know how to respond at first. I shrunk back, and returned, "I'm a scientist, not a warrior. I couldn't have intervened."

"Ha! I think you'd have found that the creatures of this world are a lot more frail than they appear. Even you, my dear portly friend, would have been able to put up a good fight. And yet, you didn't even try. You stood there as blood flowed in rivers. This is your science, then? A lot of good you've done the world."

What scared me the most was that he was right. I had stood by idly. I had watched the Bread-man kill hundreds, and never ran away or tried to help. I did treat it as a show. Was I any better than this monster?

"I... just want to go home." I had to be honest.

The gray man laughed hard, and placed his hard on my shoulder. It was as cold as ice. "Horace, Horace, Horace. What will you do when you get home? Continue writing your little "Monsterologies?" Continue to observe the loss of life as an impartial party? You'll never be a hero or a villain, you've resigned yourself to a pointless mediocrity. But you wish to keep writing nonetheless, don't you? Very well."

He flashed one last smile, and shoved me from the platform at the top of the crystal staircase. I fell away into eternity.