Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Panic Attack Jack

The Rapture is not panic attack. It doesn't want to shut you down. It wants you dead..

But first:- You have to live a week without light, at least, and you have to be deep within the earth. It will find you on the lip of a rappel. Or as you stare down nightmare falls. It will find you alone. The perfect moment, just as someone disappears from sight, the rope that holds them running through your hands. Or belly crawling sandwiched between rock. Inching your way along with one arm stretched ahead, the other tilted hand pinned at your hip. No room to lie square-set. Your crown grates on the roof, the floor nudges your chin. You tease your candle on with fingertips. Or diving through a sump, invisible in blackness.

The Rapture likes deep spaces and it haunts there. Vertigo's a parasite on Raptures back. Forced out like Dingos fleeing Lions on the savannah, orbiting in the high spaces vulturelike while Apex killers do the work below.

Rapture is to Vertigo as the Lion is to the Vulture.

At first you'll feel a nagging in your head. Like smokers feel when smokeless for a week. An almost unconscious uncurling, something twitching back behind your ears.

Then you will forget things. You look at your hands. You look at the rope. You don't know how to tie the knots. Your fingers slow like old folks on PC's. Your pulse ticks visibly in your neck. You do not know how to rappel. You have forgotten how to escape. You will die here. You know you will die here. Your fingers clench the rope. You don't know to let go. You scream but no-one comes. The rapture has found you by a waterfall or in a tunnel of wind. Or underwater. No-one can hear you. No-one can help you. You scream your mothers name. You talk aloud. You beg your god for help. You have to get out. You shouldn't be here. You have to escape. You will die here. You will die. You need to get out.

Jack is the body of a caver of some sighted, civilised, humanoid race. They're dead, and often wrapped in ropes that broke their neck. The limbs are all splintered from falls, the spine is bent. The wet ropes trail behind them like a veil. The pack is still unopened on their back. The Rapture killed them and took the body for a spin. The skin is bleached. The flesh is puffed. They are screaming for their mother and praying now, locked forever in the seconds of their death. Trying to get out, it wants your help. If you hear the voice of the clambering gasping wailing thing then you must save against Rapture or suffer it yourself. If it touches you, you suffer Rapture.

Sometimes, if the Rapture is clever, and patient, and slow, it takes a team at once. If it can kill the lead in a difficult pitch, and drop the rest, or strand a team in total dark and douse their lights, it can madden and tangle a whole group together.

This is a terrible thing to face. The shattered bodies of a handful of climbers, drowned and tied in bundles by wet rope. A clump of broken backs and back-bent fingers walking on cracked limbs. A dozen begging voices. Wrapped up by equipment. Dead lights dragging and bouncing behind it. Crawling towards you like a pale massacre-pile.


  1. There are a lot of things I like about this, but one is that there is no Ecology of the Rapture. It's just something in the dark that wants to kill you.

    It is also maybe the first thing in DnD that I find disturbing. I have only once been in a real cave (not one of those tour-guide filled caverns with installed lights and paved walkways, but an actual hole in the ground) and while we were never in real danger, it was an ugly feeling when they told us to switch off our lights and scrabble around in the dark.

    1. The Rapture is actually a real thing, though I've only read it decribed once, in James Tabor's 'Blind Descent'. And, if you read between the lines, one of the dicoverers of the Sarawak cave in Borneo had a bit of a meltdown when they realised they were transiting what must be the worlds largest underground space..

      I need to get myself down a cave for some direct experience, either that or I'll end up digging a hold under the house and end up living there, screaming 'I'M DOING RESEARCH' whenever anyone comes near.