Wexley smiled tiredly.
“We’ve been expecting you for some time.” He said, gently, as Dean stirred. It took the large man’s eyes a few moments to focus as he sat up; the first thing he noticed was the distinct absence of dimension or form. Beneath him was a featureless, textureless white that extended as far as the eye could see in all directions. It gave Dean the uncomfortable sense that he was floating. “Where am I?” he asked, his eyes moving to Wexley.
Something familiar about him.
Wexley did not answer immediately; Dean examined the older man’s face, criss-crossed with deep wrinkles, his skin marked here and there with liver spots. A shock of thick, stiff white hair swept back from a receding hairline. The old man smiled again, a little warmth creeping in. “This is where we all end up,” he explained at length. “All around us, the dead sleep.” Dean moved his lips to point out the clear absence of any dead people, but suddenly, as though they had always been there, he saw endless miles of naked bodies, carefully laid several feet apart from each other. Dean started.
The presence spoke from all around, and whispered in their ears.
For you, I have designed a special purpose. It is almost time.
“What purpose? For who? Time for what?” Dean blurted, almost involuntarily. “What the fuck was that?” Wexley just smiled again, this time with a little sadness. “We have some distance to travel; we should depart soon.” He said, gently. Dean felt his body begin to rise, though he wasn’t entirely certain it was by his own will. For a few seconds, he tried to think of more questions, tried to pull together some memory of the past few days. Eventually he gave up. “But which way do we go? Everything looks the same.”
Wexley chuckled quietly, and lifted his palm towards a path through the bodies that Dean was sure had not been there before. “The way is clear to me.” That strange smile softened a little. Without another word, the old man rose from the invisible, intangible seat he had occupied, and began to walk slowly out of the clearing. Dean moved to catch up, walking wordlessly astride his new companion. After a few steps he glanced back, and found that the clearing and path had disappeared behind them. He stared for a moment, his eyes fixed on a body a few steps away, back the way they’d come. He opened his mouth and released a pathetic cry.
“I know this man,” he whispered, staring into Wexley’s dead eyes. He turned to face his companion, and came to a sudden realization. “It’s you.”
I am all of them.
Dean’s guide smiled again, as though he’d spoken the words himself. As the large man turned his gaze back to the field of corpses, he saw Wexleys at every age, in every conceivable state of mutilation; some were dismembered, some disfigured. A few were fairly pristine. Skeletons and bones littered the field amidst more intact bodies, some fresh and white, some fire-blackened, and others splintered, cracked and smashed. “What the fuck is this all about? Who are you people?”
“I was the first one, and now I am the last one. The others have been relieved; my service is coming to an end.” Wexley explained, unhelpfully. “We must collect another, and tend to my final duties.”
“What duties? To that crazy old man?” Wexley smirked and shook his head. “You will understand in time.”
“Did he kill all of these people?” Dean asked. “All of this… person?”
“Many of them,” Wexley replied thoughtfully. “Certainly thousands. Perhaps hundreds of thousands. I have not been here to observe him for many, many years.”
“How could a man possibly kill that many people in one lifetime?”
“He is not a man.” Replied Wexley, gravely.
“Then what is he?”
“He simply is. He has always been – or at least, he has always been here.” On hearing these words, Dean felt a chill run up his spine, and glanced behind him once more; the path continued to recede. He wasn’t entirely certain, but Dean thought that the bodies were becoming more consistently gruesome. He turned his gaze forward again, and noticed what appeared to be a vast expanse of light brown something in the distance. Enormous mounds of the same substance were piled high on the horizon, though Dean couldn’t guage just how high. The bodies were already beginning to thin out in front of them.
“What is that?” Dean asked. Wexley coughed and cleared his throat. “Ash.”
Some indeterminate time later, they trudged through that ankle-deep ash, a strange, warm wind blowing waves of brown from the tops of ash mountains. The air carried a slight metallic scent disturbingly similar to the smell of blood; it was far more pleasant than the pervasive and inescapable stench of burnt flesh. Dean covered his mouth, trying not to get a taste of the pungent grit. “How did these ones die?” He shouted, unneccesarily; the wind was silent. “In a variety of manners, I suspect.” Wexley replied, pensively. “The old man was briefly fascinated by nuclear technology. Perhaps we were part of some forgotten experiment.”
Dean glanced behind them once again, and remarked that the ash desert was now the only thing visible in every direction. As he turned back, he saw something new, far ahead: Huge, dark, inhuman figures lay motionless in the ash, resuming the path that Dean was certain they had lost some time ago. “What the hell are those?”
Wexley paused before answering, for the first time since Dean’s arrival. “I was the first, the original. When Gramps felt the need, I was frozen for preservation and used as a genetic template. I know that for some time he reproduced me for a variety of purposes, but I have not seen anything like this yet…”
Dean nearly interrupted with more questions, but bit his tongue. “Perhaps these are some of his later experiments.” Wexley shrugged as he finished his sentence, and continued walking towards the figures, now not quite as distant as they had seemed.
“This place is a real trip.” said Dean aloud.
That was the idea.