This story is for a Terribleminds Flash Fiction Challenge: The Wheel, Part Two.

I had to pick 3 random elements, I got:

Subgenre

7. Lovecraftian

Conflict

8. Man versus technology!

Must Feature

10. A hidden tunnel

I whipped that together, stomped on it a few times, and came up with this.

Dear Friend,

I write you in less than ideal circumstances. While many trying events have transpired over these past months, they were but a prelude to the tribulation under which I currently toil. It is my fervent desire that this letter finds you in a better condition than myself and that my account might help to preserve you in this state.

As you are aware the months ending this year past were a grave time for myself. I do not overstate the matter when I say that on more than one night following being stricken with the horrendous illness of this summer past, did the dark reaper himself stand upon my bedroom’s threshold only waiting for a summons to enter.

It was only during the turning of the leaves when I first met Dr. Harold that some glimmer of hope flickered within my breast. As you may know, I learned of him from our late friend of North Umbridge College. All of the other colleagues I consulted concerning him, spoke of the man with the lowest regard due to his strange practices. However as it was these same men who could not remedy the malady that had so stricken my body, I pressed on.

I knew immediately he was indeed a strange man, for he spoke of techniques I had never encountered in all my years of study. And yet there was something of brilliance, and more important for wretched me, an answer to my condition.

So after several meetings, and with some great trepidation, the procedure was arranged. On the last week of the year the operation was performed and I was sent home to recover.

His work was a success! That was my thought as I lay recovering, feeling life flow slowly back into my body while a soft ticking filled the room. How naive that thought seems now.

I passed the cessation of the holidays quietly at home, but on the first night of the new year the dream began. I thought at first it was the result of the rather powerful narcotic I was consuming following the procedure. However these bizarrities continued unabated even upon the discontinuation of any substances.

The dream has continued each night since.

Thus I come to the matter of which I truly write. You well know I have never been one to place stock in dreams or visions of any kind, and yet I can discount what is occurring no longer.

I shall do my best to contain myself and describe it for you.

A bulbous full moon hangs within a starless sky. The light of which is sallow and pale as it falls across my bed.

I hear a creaking. Not the ticking I have become accustomed to following the procedure, but a deep creaking. The sound of shiftings, openings, and the parting of ways.

My body is hot. Beyond merely feverish, such is my burning that I fear my sheets will be consumed whole. Throwing them back I see movement, not in the room, but within my chest. The dim impression of clockworks are always there since the doctor’s work, but this is not those orderly movements.

This is a seizing, a rending beneath my skin. I feel each tearing surge as grindings shudder through my chest. I lay aghast, seized by a deep hollowing terror as my chest pulls open before my eyes. Within is not blood but fire and spinning gears. Each metal tooth meshes with its brethren in frantic, sparking, grinding as smoke pours from a glowing ocular deep within me.

I’m paralyzed, all feeling removed save the tremendous heat pouring forth from my ragged chest. The fire rages, the gears spinning at a fever pitch, and then when I can take no more, the oculation parts, the fire blossoms, and something emerges.

What this shape is exactly I cannot say. Perhaps in some recess of my mind I know the answer, but I cannot summon it forth. I would not even if I could, for it is not a vision that man should suffer to exist within any rational mind. I can say only that the thing is perhaps a tentacle, perhaps an arm, but with fingers along its length, each bent and grasping as it slides forth. At the base is something more, a face perhaps. A shape of many mouths and many more eyes.

I cannot go on. Even as I write this my hand falters. Save to know this horror pulls forth from my chest grasping and churning the air, and then as my body parts to breaking, I awaken gasping and spent, my sheets soaked beneath me.

If this was the extent of the vision I could attempt to bear it out. But not after tonight. When I awoke this past morn, my sheets were not cold and damp, they were smoking. I tremble again as I recall the feel, the smell of my bedding smoldering around me.

I know not what work the doctor performed, but his oath was certainly broken by his hands. Even now I feel a deep heat growing within my chest. An undying ember that I know will roar to life, for tonight is the full moon.

You may think me unbalanced as you read these words, but please believe my mind remains sound. Because of this I know what I must do. Before night falls and the moon rises I must undo the doctor’s work and I fear undo myself in the process. I must douse this flame before it ignites for I fear it will not be extinguished once it is lit.

Please take heed of my words, and above all take heed of the doctor. None of our colleagues know who or what they are dealing with. Ignorant or not, I should have listened to their advice, but now it is too late for me. I hope it is not for you.

With fear for my future, but hope for yours,

Your Friend