Unbounded Dread

chaitya hall in kanheri caves in mumbai

Kanheri Caves in Mumbai, India, © Alejandro Lara Neave via Google Maps

Fixated on the domed structure at the end of the hall, I almost stepped over the line.  They’d marked seven, each farther from the karaka’s prison.  This line was three paces from the previous one. The effect was spreading quickly.

The temple was only four centuries old, yet the stone pillars, the ceiling, the tomb itself seemed worn by millennia.

The karaka’s destruction, seeping out.

The other divines hovered behind, unwilling to venture this close.  I empathized.  Wrongness vibrated the air, making my skin tingle and my eyelids twitch.

One whispered against the gloom. “It was supposed to hold a thousand years. Why would it…” Her voice broke.  “What can we do?”

I’d studied every account, from scribbled rumors to carved monuments.  None described how they’d bound the karaka.

The effect expanded, oozing through me.  I cast my strongest shielding spell, knowing it was useless.

The dome was melting.

Word count: 150.  Written for this week’s What Pegman Saw challenge.  Click on the link to see the other stories inspired by Google Maps images of Mumbai, and to join in yourself!

The particular image I’m using is from Cave 3 in the Kanheri Caves (in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park).  In real life, the domed structure is called a stupa, a Buddhist shrine that houses relics, housed in a chaitya hall, a place for meditation.


34 thoughts on “Unbounded Dread

  1. What a great opener! That last line “The dome was melting” gave me a little chill. These people are in for some big troubles…

    This also worked for me as an ultra short story of course. Again, the setup and that last line. Just leaves it to me to wonder how much would be lost before the karaka was bound again, if it even was…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the kind comment, Louis, I’m so glad to hear you had that response! The story does imply a lot that went before and hint at what horrors might await when the karaka emerges — I wonder what will happen too, as I hadn’t thought that far ahead yet. Something BAD, that much I know!


  2. The karaka does sound like a terrible monster if even the divines, who, I assume, have considerable powers, fear its escape. I cant help thinking of Krakatoa, the volcanic island that blew up. Something on that scale must be coming.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was inspired in part by a previous story of mine with smaller versions of terrible creatures that were bound into statues and… oh crap, I named those monsters Kaaraka. Well, at least I’m (mostly) consistent. Let this be a lesson to me that I should look up the past references *before* posting the story, and not just wing it, LOL!

      Anyway yes, this being (torn from one of the planes of chaos) is at least as destructive as a volcano, especially now that they’ve angered it. Too bad they didn’t have more time to figure out the right spells…

      Liked by 1 person

    • I have a long-standing joke with my oldest friends where I describe every movie by saying, “Everybody dies.” At first the person thinks I’m spoiling the ending, until they realize I literally say this about every movie. So you can never tell which ones I’m telling the truth about and which ones I’m joking about.

      So here goes: Everybody dies. 😉

      Liked by 2 people

    • Glad you liked it, thanks! Interesting idea, that does sound like a great visual. But I will let you witness it and tell me about it later (if you survive) — I will be running in the opposite direction as fast as I can!


    • Thanks Karen, it’s so gratifying to hear that it came across like that. Although I’m starting to feel like I should write something light and fluffy next time, to take a break from all this tension. Enough of that in real life! 🙂 The chaos comes straight from Gary Gygax (Dungeons and Dragons) who set up his alignments as not just good versus evil but also order versus chaos. Good versus evil has been done so much that I like to emphasize the chaos problem, which can come down to similar effects (the “bad guys” destroying everything you’ve built) but with different goals, which is interesting to me.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Josh! I’m learning that “world building through flash fiction” has its challenges, though: I keep adding things like this event (every element of which is consistent with the fundamentals of the world) and then having to figure out retroactively where and when exactly it happened. Hmm…


  3. Love that – real sense of creeping dread as the line draws closer, as the power exudes from the prison that isn’t a prison anymore. Very tense and atmospheric. Would love to read more – what happens next and what is the karaka?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad to hear it captured your attention — thanks, Lynn! And that’s just what I was wondering, too — what happens next?!? See my reply to Josh, above. It occurs to me that this event I just made up from whole cloth would actually be pretty noticeable and memorable! So, whatever happened four hundred years ago, and whatever happens next, suddenly becomes something I need to include in my world building / time line. I’ve explained a bit about the monster in the comments above, so that’s a good start. I’ll need to change the name, though, because I already have a monster named the kaaraka — oops.

      Liked by 1 person

      • This does feel like an exciting addition to Eneana. And I love that idea about chaos vs order over good vs bad. Gives scope for ambiguity. Makes me think of the power vacuums created when dictators are toppled – the removal of horrific men sounds like a good thing until you see the aftermath such things can cause. Great writing Joy

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks Lynn! Yes, I find that thinking about order v. chaos gives me much more room for subtlety. If you have people following a “good aligned” deity, well, they’re the good guys, right? And their enemies are evil, and probably ugly like orcs, and eat babies, and have a pidgin guttural language, and… yeah, we’re back in Tolkien territory, with all that sociological nuance (not). But if you have one religion/society that focuses on order –progress, peace, being organized and fair and safe — and one that focuses on chaos — freedom, individualism, fighting against tyranny — you have two sides that both have moral high points, where you can agree with the premises of both, but also disagree with the tactics of their more extremist members.

        Of course, the same is true of the good versus evil: in my world, most people aren’t nearly as “good” as they think they are (except to their own loved ones, which is pretty self-centered, really), and most of the bad guys aren’t actively evil, they’re just self-centered, too.

        Liked by 1 person

      • As you say, it’s all about the nuances and that automatically makes it more interesting. Gone are the days of ‘white hats’ and ‘black hats’ – these days we realise all worlds are endless shades of grey

        Liked by 1 person

  4. This dome holds something very evil I think. I believe though, he is not going to be trapped 1000 years, that somehow his magic is stronger than those trying to repair the dome before he escapes. This one was very exciting, & I very much want to know what happens next.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I talk a little more about the monster in the comments, above, and that’s as far as I’ve gotten in working out exactly what it is. How I am is “crazy busy”, mostly at work, so it’s hard to squeeze in much writing or world building, or even commenting on blogs these days. But I do try to keep up a little here and there!


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