For a long time the old man doesn't say anything. When he speaks, dark gums flap loosely, the chamber floods with rancid insouciance. You hide in the present, that feeble purchase. A precipice on which you teeter over death. Drenched in sweat, in fear, trapped between what was and what will be. The stench of youth pushes you closer and closer to the shadows.
"Yes, yes," He wheezes, in response to your unasked question, "Children are our future, and our past... We cradle them in our arms, these reflections, and we see what we once were. In us? They see what they must become. And who must end so that they may become it.”
“A vicious cycle,” You whisper, beset by flashes of memory. Held by your own father, the fear in his eyes. His ichor on your hands as you subsume his flesh. You and he as one, the elder obliterated as you contort towards manhood.
He pauses, as the distant wail of infants grow ever more present. Tiny fingers bear down, through the soft yielding wood like paper. Their hunger propelling them. And so, your ends grow nigh.
"We were doomed the moment they learned to transcend. The moment we learned. And round, and round it goes. Round and round…" His sentence trails off nothing, and you see they are already among you. A neonatal army, wailing, the old man's viscera choking their maws.
"We've been doomed," His bloody spittle flecks your cheeks, the legion of babies bearing down on him. You turn from the carnage, wincing. Vision hazed by the shadows of encroaching death. "Since before the universe began.”
He speaks now not to you, but to the small figures clinging to him, anthropomorphic leeches, growing, growing, forcing you out into the dark.
“Enjoy us, little ones… Enjoy. While. You. Ca-” Eyelids fluttering, he fades, leaving nothing in his wake but a mass of surging flesh. Then comes the young’s joyous ululation as you are among them, fresh prey. And they tear into you. Even as the pain settles upon you, so too does the numbing future. The dull night.
From the air echoes the old man’s laughter. Your cackles join his, and you float up and out from the world you once knew. This terrible chorus is the last thing you hear:
Come, let’s depart this den of horrors.
So you give way.
And so the world turns, ruled by your future, you, their past, by the locusts who house themselves in your skeleton and march briskly to their own ends like you never existed at all. And so your soul comes cycling around to the fore. The tiniest spark. A zygote once more.