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I read this story within the last 10 years. My memory of it is very hazy. I don't remember where I read it either.

The gist of the plot that I can remember is that there are two types of seemingly alien creatures fighting each other on modern day Earth. One is a some sort of angular apparition that slices up people when it appears. The other is, as I recall, an enormous telepathic armored octopus thing that forces people into some sort of death pits. Large swathes of the population are killed by the individual combatants and in the battles between them.

In the end, the octopus creatures win a Pyrrhic victory with a sole survivor. The victor implies (or outright states) that it is an evolved human from a very distant future, and that the other creature was the same, but from a different evolutionary path. I can't remember why they were fighting, or why there was so much seemingly deliberate collateral damage.

I feel like the final scene between the enormous armored octopus thing and the main character was illustrated.

If anyone can demonstrate that I did not dream this whole thing up, it would make me feel a lot better. I'd like to read it again.

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  • The octopus "forces people using telepathy into some sort of death pits"? Is it powerless against people who aren't using telepathy?
    – user14111
    Apr 6, 2023 at 22:45
  • @user14111. I don't remember unfortunately. I do remember the main character having a brush with said pits and possibly escaping. But I think he was also able to communicate with the last creature telepathically. Again though, I'm not actually sure about any of the details. It all feels like something I may have dreamt (but I'm pretty sure I didn't). Apr 6, 2023 at 22:50
  • I'm confused, should the phrase be read to mean the octopus "forces people, using telepathy, into some sort of death pits" (i.e. the octopus is the one using telepathy, not the people) or as "it forces the people who are using telepathy into some sort of death pits"?
    – Hypnosifl
    Apr 7, 2023 at 1:03
  • @Hypnosifl. I finally understood the confusion. The octopus thing has telepathy. Regular modern people are receptive to it and go to the death pits. Modern people are not telepathic as such, as far as I can tell. Hopefully the wording is a bit more clear now in the question itself. Apr 7, 2023 at 3:17
  • 1
    The concept sound like a web serial called 'That insidious beast' - although some of the details don't match. See my answer to this question for details scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/93527/…
    – JayFor
    Apr 7, 2023 at 13:16

1 Answer 1

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After some discussion in the comments, it seems that the answer is That Insidious Beast by Zack Parsons. This is a series of short stories published on SomethingAwful.com in 2008 and 2009, and is also probably the answer to this question.

Like the previous question, the OPs recollections seem to come from the final three stories in the series (Fall Sweeps, Delta Frame and Master Copy). These form a single story arc, unlike the earlier stories, which have self-contained plots.

The series is set on modern-day earth (or at least in 2009). However there are suggestions throughout the series that the influence of the two alien races dates back to at least the 1950s, making it more like alternate history.

There are two types of alien creatures fighting each other - the 'Angels' and the 'Unfolders'. This is a proxy war involving human nations, and causes enormous collateral and environmental damage. The tone is apocalyptic, although it doesn't involve the compete destruction of the human race.

The Unfolders would be the ones that slice people up; it's suggested that they can manipulate reality in strange and unpleasant ways.

His fingers are unfolded, like sheets of dark paper that twist and spiral into impossible angles. These shifting helixes extend outward, moving, coming to points.

He is playing Mrs. Harding. Still alive, or brought back alive. She is torn open with precision. Dissected like a specimen.

That Insidious Beast: Delta Frame

The Angels are definitely large and telepathic. They're generally described in Lovecraftian terms, which might suggest 'octopus'.

The underground death pits sort of match a scene where the protagonist meets an Angel in an underground US Army base.

My words echo down the tunnel. I am almost there. Almost to the red hatch that opens into the sarcophagus lair of the angel they call the Hierophant.

That Insidious Beast: Delta Frame

Also...

..in the final story, both an Angel and an Unfolder claim to be humans from the future.

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