Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Chirp



    Another chirp drifted into the room from outside. The window was open again. It hadn't been ten minutes since Jacob had slammed it closed. He stared at it, into the front yard beyond where the grass had become an ugly orange-brown, and thought of how exposed he was. Anything could get in once the latch and been swiveled open. The thought made his bones tighten. Sniffling and hacking, he got up from his chair to close it again. He was getting sick.
            
    It was the tail end of Fall, and all of the leaves that had been in the trees were on the ground; golden and deceased. In the mornings, frost had started to form on the roofs and hoods of cars and the grass had become brittle. It crunched underfoot at every step; the only sound Jacob focused on as he tramped across his back yard, checking for signs of the intruder.
           
    But he hadn't been outside to check in three days. For him, it was no longer safe to do so.
             
    Two weeks earlier, he had been a normal high school kid. He did everything one would expect of a lively senior: weekend boozing, class skipping, and the occasional after-school slice at Yucca Steve's Pizza Palace. Everything seemed to be just as it should have been on a perfectly sunny Wednesday morning.
             
    That day, Jacob had slept through his alarm and lay in bed as his parents engaged in their usual coffee ritual in the kitchen. They poured it, steaming and black, into their enamel mugs and grimaced as they took it in. Shrugging on their coats, they roared off in their respective vehicles, leaving the boy alone in the house.
            
    They worked in the city, and wouldn't be home until late, so when he finally woke up and found that it was past noon, he decided to shirk school and take his time getting ready to cruise out to the strip mall.
             
    He slipped out of bed and walked over the cold wood floor to his bathroom where he brushed his teeth for nearly ten minutes. As he did so, he stared at his eyes. They looked vapid, like a twin set of opaque swamps with swirling bog bubbles at their centers. He spat a bloody soup of toothpaste and plaque into the sink and dried his mouth with a towel.
             
    There were no clean shirts in his closet, so he plunged a hand into a mountain of worn clothes next to the footboard of his bed and retrieved a shirt and his favorite pair of jeans. Once dressed, he proceeded through the hallway and the living room into the kitchen and whipped the freezer door open.
             
    Raspberry tarts were his favorite, and he was in luck. There were five, so he took them all out and stood in front of the toaster, heating them in cycles until they were in a steaming stack on his plate. He filled a glass of milk to compliment them and brought his bounty, teetering, to the coffee table in the living room. With a latent finger, he pressed the power button on a remote sitting on the table. The television crackled to life, howling sports. He was disheartened to learn that his favorite football team had lost.
             
    It was a very important thing to him. Like most sports fans, he didn’t realize that he was volunteering his heart to be torn in two with each ignoble defeat his idols encountered.
             
    Jacob sneered, flipped to the music channel, and wolfed down his tarts. If he had been more aware, he might have heard the tap that occurred at each window in the room, one after the other, every two seconds. And the chirp.
             
    Thirty minutes later, his stomach was full. He slipped into his shoes, grabbed his board, and left through the front door, kicking it closed behind him. It was only two-fifteen, but it seemed unusually dark. The few shredded-cotton-ball clouds didn’t account for the deepness of it.
          
 He jogged out into his front yard and almost threw his board down to roll away, but some dark crouching thing at the far end of the street caught his eye as he neared the curb. It was standing behind a sycamore in the Jamesons' yard. It looked like pure shadow, head indeterminable. A light wind was ruffling a row of hedges just behind it, which appeared to agitate the figure. When it wasn’t looking over its shoulders or back down its side of the street, it seemed to be focused on Jacob.
           
    "Hey!", he said.
             
    The shadow didn't react, but he thought he could hear a chattering rasp coming from somewhere deep in the thing's throat. He didn’t like the sound one bit.
             
    "The fuck're you looking at?"
             
    His question went unanswered. The dark creature started moving back and forth as if it were the native inhabitant of some far flung island, doing a dance to invoke its gods. Jacob could feel sweat slick on his temples and the hollow throb of his heart. He was getting the jim-jams in a serious way. Suddenly, he wanted to beat it. To kill it before it could do something horrible to him. He took a few quick steps off of the curb and started yelling.
             
    “Answer me, you little bastard, or I swear to god I’ll—“
             
    But suddenly, the shadow was gone. It was like it had melted into the grass. Spilled like a towering column of India ink.
             
    Utterly perplexed, Jacob could think of nothing else to do but jump onto his skateboard and light off down the street, leaving the shadow behind, odd and unexplained. He'd always thought better of following the whims of curiosity. He had seen too many scenes in horror movies end badly because of such indulgences.
             
    The wind blew his hair back into a rippling raven flag. He kick-flipped up onto a stairway railing on his way through the neighborhood park and grinded down into a manual at the bottom, screeching to a stop after landing it and yanking his fist down to his chest in celebration. A nearby kid whose face had been invaded by a spore-like smattering acne gave him a thumbs-up. He returned it graciously, beaming, and sped off down another hill.
             
    The whole time he rode through the streets, he consistently peered over his shoulder, just in case there was some black gaping nightmare sprinting at his heels. He had the distinct sensation of being followed. The feeling was leaching the joy from his bones.
             
    Fifteen minutes later, he arrived at the strip mall. Leaves were drifting around lazily in the parking lot, skidding against the concrete, rasping out a symphony. The air had grown slightly colder, and there was no one to be seen mulling about the storefronts or cars. In fact, every store appeared deserted. Jake felt uneasy, and approached his final destination: Ceekiante Arcade.
             
    Dropping his skateboard by the door, he shielded his eyes to counteract the obscuring reflection of the parking lot and peered in through the glass. He couldn’t see any of his friends tapping furiously at plastic keys or yanking on joysticks. There was no cashier at the counter. All that he saw was an inky dimness and a few specks of complacent dust that hung immobile in the air. Something was wrong. The arcade was always bustling with activity.
             
    He tried the handle. At first it wouldn’t budge, but on his fifth tug, Jake wrenched it open with unexpected ease. It swung past him and smacked into the adjacent wall. He stepped inside, peering cautiously down aisles of game cabinets and growing all the more anxious as he worked his way toward the back. He figured he might at least find Mid-day Fred, the day janitor. He was always in the back, afternoons, chewing on his dirty beard as he toiled betwixt slimy, desperate teens.
             
    But to Jake’s surprise, there was not a single sweep of a broom or rustle of a garbage bag when he neared the rear corner. Even after pushing on the lever to the maintenance room door, he encountered nothing but a continuation of solitude. He was utterly alone and each step he took became louder than its prior as the seconds of realization passed. It was unnatural for it to be that quiet at the strip mall, where everyone came to skip school and enjoy the days of their youth to the last drop.
             
    In a panic, he called out, “Hello?! Is anyone here? At all?” But silence was his only answer.
             
    He felt the sudden urge to leave. To go straight back home, to his warm room. His safe, comfortable bed, thronged with comic books and stiff socks. He started back toward the front door at a quickened pace, but after passing the restrooms halfway to the exit, he heard a squeaking and stopped, supposing that he had stepped in water. The noise continued, though. It wasn’t quite a squeak.
             
    It was fundamentally different, but recognizable to him. Images were conjured in his mind of childhood, chasing butterflies through a park.
             
    Chirp.
            
    “Blue jays? Definitely not in here”, he said to the darkness. “Where do I recognize that sound from?”
             
    Chirp…
             
    Dread was coiling up in the pit of his stomach like a lead boa constrictor. He knew, suddenly, that something had been stalking him from the moment he’d walked in. Whatever it was, it continued to emit the queer chirp, just a row over from where he stood.
             
    “That’s fuckin’ it”, he said, and sprinted for the door.

He refused to look back, but he could hear the sound of hard, narrow feet beating against the threadbare carpet, mere feet behind him. Broomsticks on ceramic tile. His stalker’s chirp had turned into a low whirring whistle that might have sounded like a cat purring after having eaten one of those small, plastic Casio pianos he used to play with when he was younger. The thing, whatever it was, was closing the distance between them. He could feel something like whiskers or antennae lightly grazing his shirt.

When he reached the door handle, he jammed it forward, burst out into the open parking lot, and continued to run for several yards. He could no longer hear the thing’s horrifying tone at his back, so he slowed to a jog and then walked in circles for a few moments. He stopped and doubled over, panting. It had gotten even darker outside and great viscous clouds, pregnant with rain and winking lightning had come rolling in from the South.

He didn’t see any cars in the road. The parking lot was still bereft of any sign of life. He scanned the broad, black street from end to end, rubbing his neck and sniffing snot back into his nostrils. It had grown quite cold. Freezing specks of rain began to stipple his scalp. He turned around to face the buildings.

Horrified, Jake remembered that his skateboard was still on the sidewalk. He’d have to go back and retrieve it before he could leave (and sure as shit, I’m getting the fuck out of here, he thought to himself), but the cost of such a feat caused his heart to quicken. He wasn’t sure he could make himself do it.

Keeping low, he slinked toward a nearby car and stared over its hood at the arcade. Everything seemed lethally still. It was a trap, waiting just for him. He stayed frozen, observing the prospect of returning for nearly fifteen minutes before deciding that he just couldn’t do it. Sighing deeply, he turned his back on his board and left. His lips were trembling.

Hardly able to take a step without surveying his entire panorama, he traversed the streets back to his house, but avoided the park. It seemed to him that passing through there was a death wish; that it was the perfect place to become prey. He didn’t allow himself to blink until he stepped foot on the wilted grass of his lawn.

Once inside, he locked every window and bolted every door. He didn’t grasp the entire gravity of his situation then and there, but that would be the last time he left the boundaries of his home.

The following weeks were a nightmare. The horror wasn’t caused by being constantly under siege, but because nothing happened though the threat remained palpable. He could feel aerated poison sinking into his lungs.

The furthest he would travel from his refuge was the curb at the street and the boundaries of his yard. His parents never came home. Even though he rarely saw his neighbors to begin with, they were most definitely out of the picture after the chirping had started. He wanted desperately to know what was happening to him, but the simple fact was, if he left in search of answers, he would surely die.

Sometimes, just as he was falling asleep, one of his favorite CDs playing silently through the stereo by his bed, he would hear a rising chorus of chirps in the distance. The din wasn’t loud enough to bring him out of his hypnagogic state, but his skin grew lousy with goose bumps. It sounded like a continuous, muffled shriek. Like a beautiful by-product of mass torture.

Then, one day, it came for him.

He woke up, and the window was ajar. Cold wind was funneled into his room and rushing across his body. It was six in the morning, during that strange interim between night and day where the entire world is a flat wash of gray and, if a person hasn’t slept, horribly alien thoughts come to mind.

Chirp…

Jacob heard it unmistakably, just outside of his room under the window sill. Something was there and all that kept them apart was half a foot of sheetrock, wood, and vinyl siding. He couldn’t breathe. The follicles of his scalp were tightening. It seemed like the external world was being sucked away through the hole in his wall.

Getting up slowly, he slid his legs across the sheets and placed them carefully on the floor. He rose and, every three seconds, stepped closer to the noise. There was no retreating into the hallway or the bathroom. He knew that to turn his back on the thing outside was to perish without knowing.

The gusts of wind that spewed in at him as he drew closer caused his nipples to harden and shrink. He held himself tightly in his bare arms, his teeth chattering, and squinted against the cold. It took him five minutes to reach the window.

The suspense was pulling his skin taut over his bones as if it were a civil war drum hide. He stuck his head out and there was nothing there.

Ducking back inside, he whirled around to make sure nothing was standing at his back and slammed the window closed. With the whisper of the lock sliding back on its groove into the clasp, the portal was closed.

He had a coughing fit. He was in a tomb.

Jacob stormed into the living room, lashing the walls of the hallway with the belt of his robe as he went. The chirp was becoming more frequent. He couldn’t escape it and the fact was beginning to eat away at him.

He walked into the kitchen and opened the fridge. It was nearly empty. He had expended the last of the sandwich supplies two days before. Staring at the barren, chilled shelves, he wished that his parents had gone to the grocery store before blinking out of existence. He would have liked a couple of tasty snacks before facing his doom.

He settled for a meal of six frozen “Nuggie Kids” chicken nuggets.

And he knew that it was only a matter of time before his end came to him. Whatever was outside had started to follow him around the house, no matter where he went. It would chirp sometimes in the midst of absolute silence, just to make him jump. He hadn’t taken a shower in a week for fear that the stalker might take such an opportunity to waltz inside and get a peek at him before sinking its teeth into his supple flesh and making a meal of him.

The dining room table was gleaming from the overhead chandelier as Jacob sat at its head and stared at a dated newspaper from the morning of The Sixteenth. There was a tap on the window. Just behind him. He turned dubiously in the chair, rolling his eyes and shifting his body so that he could see what had made the noise. As soon as the wooden frame entered his peripheral vision, however, there was an implosion of glass shards. The thing was upon him.

It had Jacob pinned onto the table. He stared into its crystalline black eyes. They were lidless orbs set deep into a doughy white head, if a head it could even be considered. More like a malformed sculpture from a kindergarten art class. A scripture, direct from Hell. It had seven appendages: six of them seemed to be its legs. The seventh extruded from its back through a crop of fungal air sacs (they inflated and deflated intermittently to no obvious rhythm). It was tipped with a terrifically sharp barb that seemed to be leaking a dark purple liquid down its shaft.

The creature had a ragged maw, just below its eyes. It imposed its putrid breath all over his face. He tried to speak to it, but before his words could amount to much more than a weak rattle in his throat, a shrill chirp blasted out of it and slammed his skull down onto the wood. Its legs began to rattle in their joints. The barb jutting out of its back was curling around its neck and arching. The creature was deciding whether or not to impale him with it.

Jacob tilted his head to look around for something to beat it off of him. Just inches from his head was a fallen jag of crystal from the chandelier that had hung above the table minutes before. The thing was leaning in close for some sort of death kiss when Jacob snatched the glimmering fragment and sank it deep into the nape of its neck.

It belched a screech that made Jacob’s head feel smaller, as if it had begun fold in on itself like possessed origami. He was close to passing out, but the survivalist in him realized the momentary reprieve for what it was: a chance to wriggle free and fortify himself in his bedroom. He had a solid pine Louisville slugger propped in the corner just to the left of his door. He was imagining just how good it would be for pulverizing the gooey bastard’s skull.

He slid out from beneath the trilling horror and rolled off the side of the table. Even as he slammed against the dining room hardwood, he could sense a tension at his rear. The thing was regaining its poise and reacquainting itself with its target. Jacob pawed at the floor while pushing himself forward with a few clumsy lunges. He was deafened with the buzzing din of insect wings. The creature was already at his heels.

Within a few horribly distorted seconds (the million threads of each second forming a weave which pulsated and churned back and forth), Jacob crossed the threshold of his bedroom. He swiveled on his heels and rammed the door into its jamb with his shoulder. Shortly after, he could hear a solid, violent impact on the other side. The thing had flown headlong into a sudden dead end and was likely dazed. Taking a chance on it, Jacob grabbed the baseball bat and whipped the door open.

The creature’s legs had given out and splayed at its sides. The shrill tones it had been emitting were replaced by a confused whirring coming from deep inside of its body. It was a writhing black mass of twitches, its white play-dough head bobbing merrily. Jacob took no time to study its ghastly form, however. He simply brought the bat down onto it. Repeatedly.

Fifty swings later, there wasn’t much of the thing left for him to observe. He released the bat and knelt, panting. Immediately, the smell of the thing’s fluids assaulted his nostrils and made him fall dumbly back into his room on his ass. He scrambled up onto his feet, enraged, and skirted the abomination to make his way to the kitchen.

Digging around under the sink, he found a box of scouring powder. He rejoined the deceased creature and dumped a crystalline white mountain on top of it, then edged his way back into his room and collapsed onto his bed, letting out a shuddering, horrified sigh.

Exhausted, drained, Jacob prayed in garbled whispers, anointing the ceiling with wasted breath. The air draped the scent of extraterrestrial decay over every surface. Sleep found him.

It was hours later when he awoke. The world beyond his window had become orange with the cant of the sun. He noticed with disquieted clarity that he could no longer hear the blue jays singing as he had only a week before. When he sat up, he heard a sickly squelch and, looking down, observed lengthening tendrils of clear slime oozing off of his back.

Panicked, he leapt up and ran into his bathroom. At the mirror, he beheld the worst image of his short, miserable life. There were colonies of pustules expanding and collapsing rhythmically on his cheeks and forehead. He opened his mouth to scream, but the moment his lips parted, a green, chunky mess delivered itself from the captor cavity into the porcelain. With a dawning delirium, Jacob recognized the fetid gruel as his tongue, disintegrated and sedimentary in his head. It had rotted while he slept.

Instead of a screaming himself hoarse, he had a sneezing fit, but with each violent “ah-CHOO”, a bold crimson jet misted the porcelain bowl. The blood that hadn’t evacuated itself was running down his throat and when vomited it out, most of his teeth wrenched free in the downpour. They were floating in the piss-smelling water of the toilet among chunks of the chicken nuggets that he had nuked and eaten that very morning.

“Oh god!” he screamed. “Why?! What made me sick?”

Five hours later, Jacob was cringing like a shrimp on the floor of his parents’ bedroom. His skin was a gruesome shade of green, glinting with ichor as some inner slime pushed its way through his pores. He was rotting, alive.

He had staggered around the house during those hours, searching for medicine. There was nothing that he thought might help him, but even so, he swallowed six different kinds of vitamins and every cold & flu capsule he could find.

After the doom settled in, he contented himself with moaning and beating his fists on the walls. The skin on the sides of his hands had been flayed, revealing the hamburger meat gristle beneath.

Entering one room, his eyes flickered over the furniture with gut-wrenching familiarity. He’d run a circuit of the place at least twenty times before stumbling his parents’ room and collapsing. The muscle fibers in his legs had beginning to liquefy.

There were jagged puddles of dark green and orange fluids crowded around his laboring form, soaked into the carpet. His body had been squirting them out of various newly formed holes in his chest and back. His mental faculties were beginning to slip away when the door to the hallway opened.

A dark humanoid midget stepped in. Dark, actually, wasn’t quite precise. It was beyond darkness. It was like a howling body-shaped hole in mid-air that was sucking light into it; a walking singularity. It chattered to itself, taking infinitesimal steps toward Jacob as he stared up at it.

A vague thought rose to the top of his brain like a bubble in a glass of water. That was the thing hiding behind the sycamore in the Jamesons’ yard the day this all started. Ever so slightly his eyes began to widen. He tried to wrench his body across the carpet, to create distance between himself and the whistling anomaly from beyond, but the moment he squirmed he could feel his spinal cord separate from itself like a saturated strand of toilet paper. He screamed, and literally coughed up part of his lung.

The dark being approached him and crouched, tilting its head in an almost loving way, as if it cared. Then Jacob saw one of the last and most horrifying sights of his life: multiple tentacles leered out of its back and began to form balloon-like spheres at their tips. The spheres then began morphing into recognizable faces – all of his friends, his parents. They gaped down at him and moved their mouths open and closed, but produced no words.

Tears were spilling down his cheeks as he looked on. The thing bent over him, planted its hands on Jacob’s head and pulled him closer. He could feel the skin on his face loosening itself from his skull and fluttering away in sail-like flaps. Suddenly, words filled the room, but they weren’t quite being spoken. The thing was injecting them directly into Jacob’s mind.

I’M SORRY!

He didn’t understand, but he thought back at the thing with what was left of him in his sickly, dissolving gray matter.

Sorry for what? Why is… this?

The sucking, bipedal thing shook him in its grasp.

I JUST COULDN’T HOLD IT ANYMORE!
  
The thing’s thought-words were so loud that the skin on Jacob’s scalp was splitting, and the bone beneath was criss-crossed with jaunty scribbling cracks as it ruptured from the force. He was all but gone. A goofy smile crossed his face. He began to slobber, but tears still welled in his lower eyelids.

I WAS ZOOMING THROUGH SPACE AND I REALLY HAD TO GO! I SWOOPED DOWN ONTO THIS PLANET AND TOOK THE HUGEST, MOST MERCIFUL POO OF MY LIIIIFE. BUT I NEVER COULD HAVE KNOWN THAT THERE WAS LIFE HERE… AND NOW…. AUGH!

And now what? Jacob thought, giving the grieving thing a humorous wink. When he reopened his eye, it burst, and its insides sluiced out of the socket onto his collarbone.

WELL… NOW I HAVE TO CLEAN UP MY MESS.

With that, the being embraced Jacob and sucked his skeleton clean with its vacuum skin. Moments later, his face visage sprouted out of its back on another one of its black, writhing stalks. It had a wan but jubilant expression as it bobbed.

The Jacob simulation’s eyes gazed out of a window on the west wall and watched as the sun disappeared below the horizon, leaving the sky with a shimmer of bloody dusk-shine.

Hundreds of miles to the South, an enormous burgundy mountain, swarming with otherworldly insects, sat where skyscrapers once soared in downtown Atlanta. It was pulsing with veins of ethereal red light and emitted a brown shimmering fume which was accumulating above it in a shit-colored nimbus.

It was the epicenter of a waking nightmare. For hundreds of miles around it, the ground had been decimated. Mulched up mounds of rock and dirt had been overrun with a bright red fungal carpet. The air was pierced with a never-ending chorus of chirps as leagues of winged creatures with bulging sacs and whipping stingers pranced across a completely new topography of hillocks and valleys.

Lurching pillars of green sludge that once were the city’s fine citizens were rooted to the ground. Very faintly, under multiple layers of cosmic defecation and growth, their moans could still be heard.

As the sun rounded the planet and abandoned the demolished fa├žade of the urban skyline, the stars opened their eyes. They were brighter than they had ever been, looking down on the end.

Flush.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

ohmen

I... I didn't write this.

No, seriously. I didn't write this draft at all, and I can't imagine why anyone would forge their way into my account just to leave something as noncommittally cryptic as this.

Just "ohmen".

Guys, this isn't a story. This is Terror, speaking directly to you. I want you all to understand that someone has found a way into my account and found it somehow pertinent to scribe this simple word onto a blank draft, leaving it in relative obscurity for me to find.

I don't know, maybe I did write this some long time ago in a fit of writer's block. I probably tapped it in for shits and gig's and then moseyed into the kitchen for some hummus. But.

I have a feeling in the pit of my stomach that tells me this isn't something I would actually go through with and leave up for months and months, just waiting under the "posts" tab.

And just think of how it could be construed:

Oh, men.

Omen.

If only you, my dear loyal readers, had been with me during the Summer of 2011... I wish could present the experience to you somehow. It felt just like this. A deafening silence filling the room. Something that feels untrue to nature, yet not provably wrong, sitting right under my nose and taunting me. A horrid tingling at the nape of my neck as a mute breath rattles from the gullet of an invisible pentapod monster.

Boulshed can attest to my claims.

Maybe something lost me back in Georgia and has been searching ever since that fateful, sweltering summer. Maybe I was found a while ago, and I never realized it.

God, I wish I could just see the sun right now.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Night At MacLellan's

Parcel received from Mokksy Jekks. Date omitted. Found in Jukksy Jekks's personal work desk. His whereabouts remain unknown.

[Dear Jukksy,
   Last night, I was galavanting through the abandoned Summerwood apartments on Demetrius Ave. with Sissy and Marvin. We had been getting a strange pull from it all week, and decided that we'd stop by. Most of the apartments were barren, besides the detritus of fallen brick and sheetrock. We were getting ready to give up and leave, when Sissy started getting a screwy feeling about this one door.
   It was Apt. #43. I know, chills right? She was shivering, and told us all to stop because there was something very important there. I had to kick down the door. The lock was rusted solid. Inside, the smell was bad, man. I mean, we had to hold our breath and everything, which really limited our time inside. All we could see at first was an aluminum bed frame and a ragged hole in the floor of the kitchen. Sissy made a beeline to it.
   When we got close-up, we all started getting terrible migraines. There was some serious voodoo down there. She smeared liverdust over our foreheads and eyelids, and we got on all fours to peer down into it. For a while, nothing happened besides the steady incline of pain in our heads, but soon, we could hear screams.
   It was something really terrible. As you know, people like us don't have weak constitutions when it comes to that sort of thing, but there was something so awful about it... We couldn't fight the compulsion to leave, so we stood up and started taking small, backward steps.
   Just when we were getting to the hallway entrance at the far end of the room, the screaming hole lobbed this short little manuscript at us. Some guy named Jonathan wrote it (later, we discovered, through town records, that Apt. #43 was his). Apparently he used to frequent that old MacLellan's place. The things he described seem pretty familiar, now that I think about it. Unnerving stuff.
   Anyway, I figured this would catch your interest. You're always trying to get more info on what's been going on recently. I think I need to take a little vacation and get out of Alexander, if you know what I mean. Things are starting to get a little hot around here, and the others feel followed, just like I do. I'll try to stop in before I head over to the Greyhound station on Tuesday. Enjoy, but try not to read this alone at night. I wouldn't recommend it.

Regards,
Mokksy]

    Understand this. At first, it didn't seem to me that I was in any special sort of danger. I mean, of course there's that inherent risk of walking out of your front door and getting struck by lightning, but other than that, I felt pretty safe.
    It was unseasonably warm. When I stepped out into the January abyss, I almost regretted wearing that thin hoodie. It was threadbare and full of holes, but still kept me uncomfortably warm. In a normal world, I would have been double-timing it, cursing the frigid bite of Winter with every begrudging step.
    Walking through the town square, I took in the dismal air of the evening. I didn't realize that I wasn't alone at the time, so I walked on with little precaution, hardly noticing anything except for a happy couple that sat by Glover Fountain. They sipped at steaming cups of coffee and told snippy little jokes to each other. At least, it sounded like that's what they were doing... They were laughing their heads off.
    Now that I look back, though, I'm starting to wonder at what they could possibly have found so funny. No one laughs that hard on a first date. That maniacally.
    In case you're wondering how I knew it was their first date, don't worry. I have credibility when it comes to people-reading. The guy wasn't touching her in any way. That's either the sign of a touch-me-not, or a very unsure man, and the way that his eyes glittered with hopeless romance, the prior was rather doubtful.
    Damn it all! That's what makes me so furious with myself for getting into this predicament. As a person who prides himself in his ability to size up the world, I should never have allowed Them to close in so wholly undetected. However, I'm getting ahead of myself.
    I arrived at the bar not long after leaving the apartment. MacLellan's. A favorite haunt of mine. On any given weekday, you could walk in with intentions of being completely anti-social and getting trashed without disturbance. For an Irish pub full of hicks with heads that swim with insignificant things such as college football and recent renovations downtown, it wasn't a bad place.
    Tonight was different.
    I wasn't consciously alarmed by my surroundings, although I had been feeling a slight tinge of apprehension from the moment I entered. Some generic Gaelic drivel was spewing from hidden speakers, and the place reeked of whiskey, meat-sweat, and brimstone. I found a comfy spot at the end of the bar to brood.
    Making a very conscious effort not to display my impatience while waiting for the bartender, I retrieved my phone and went through pictures I had taken that day. When the man arrived, I went through my usual, awkward ritual of asking for a drink.
    To my right, a group of red-faced conservatives were drawling on about national defense and the travesty of Obama's presidency. The usual, lovely bullshit.
    After a short time, my beer arrived, and I immediately began to gulp it down, taking breaks in between to zone out and stare at a glass-faced refrigerator full of Irish brews which never seemed to get ordered. I wondered to myself what it would be like to spend an entire existence chilled inside, looking out upon ignorance. Haphazardly spilled liquids, stupid guffaws and chortles, night after night. The hours rolled long.
    "I woulda shot 'im in the face!" The exclamation jolted me out of a somber, timeless trance. The invalids a few seats down had been whacking each other off for hours, spewing nausea-inducing topics left and right. I was prepared to retire back into a stupor when something caught my eye about them. The one with the military buzz-job, who had brought me out, was speaking - yet, his lips moved side-to-side instead of the natural up-and-down.
    The men that crowded around him were standing in casual, thumbs-in-pockets positions, but frozen in place. And their god-forsaken eyes! Upon further, inebriated inspection, I found them to be cloudy grey, and without expression. If I had been uneasy at any point in the night before then, it amounted to naught, as things had ascended to an entirely new level of mind-fuckery.
    Trying to control restless, sanity-thirsty eyes, I focused on the glossy wood grain of the bar. I told myself, "Maybe it's not something completely terrible. Who knows? Maybe they're intellectuals who meet up every Monday night and take the sardonic ribbing of all that is wrong with society to an extreme level. I'm fine. Yeah..." But no. I was not fucking fine.
    I couldn't keep myself from peering at the bartender, hoping for an equal reaction of petrified puzzlement. He seemed to be content with the scene. He also seemed to be removing his entrails with his bare hands. I couldn't look away. With a furious satisfaction, he unloaded his steaming life onto black, plastic serving trays, and served them to tables throughout the bar. He laughed through bubbles of blood all the time.
    My head followed his journey, and suddenly, the simmering liquids inside longed for escape. I ran a catalogue of the drinks I had ordered: Two vodka-cranberries, a strong White Russian, and - dear stars! - even a blowjob. I found myself distracted at the thought, because it troubled me a great deal more. Who would drink a blowjob alone at a bar?! Anyway...
    The recipients of our dear barkeep's guts chowed down as soon as they could. It appeared rubbery and tough, like the tentacles of an octopus, but they powered through it all the same. The music began to run backwards. The lights, to flicker. The eyes of all I saw, to glow.
    I was glued to my stool. Avoiding the slightest bodily movement, in order to avoid the attention of the freaks that surrounded me, I let my eyes dance across it all. A waltz progressed through coagulated, blood-caked teeth. My corneas mambo'd betwixt ravenous, green eyes and dirty gore fingers. These retinas pranced, and salsa'd, and calypso'd through the physical incarnation of madness.
    My doom was an apparent and sweet requiem. One that rivaled Beethoven's ninth.
    You know those LED strips that most bars hang above the graveyard of liquor shelves behind the bar? The one that delivers the scores of popular sporting events or winning lottery numbers? The very one I found myself staring at announced a grave thing to me in a nearly mincing orange and green.
    "Hello, Jonathan. Ready to sate us? You're the house special."
    Suddenly, it became very quiet in MacLellan's. My dear bar was reciting the song of Death, and a... thing took a seat next to me. When I tell you that I couldn't differentiate its mouth from its eyes and lungs, try not to read into it much. Just visualize it in your mind. A thing, hardly even humanoid, with sooty, yellow skin, garbed in pristine black silk with a mouth/eye/lung for a face. It pulsated in a way that I won't even attempt to describe before dribbling some terrible, dark liquid from its orifice.
    In my mind, I heard it say, "Go back to the trance. You don't want to be around for what comes next." I couldn't do anything but accept its existence, and think back at it.
    "What in the hell are you?" It writhed at my question. An almost comical "harumph" of sorts.
    "I'm every moment you've ever spent wishing you were somewhere else. I'm the demon beneath your pillow that ejaculates into your mind when you believe that you're alone and let the despair dig deep into your soul. I am the greedy, existential dog that awaits the table scraps of your hope, shortly before you succumb to your slummy, comfortable couch and remember that you are lost and waiting to die. Feed me. I haven't eaten since lunch."
    I couldn't respond. It reached out and gently inserted its wormy digits into me. I could feel everything leaving, and I'll admit it: I went away. Everything wilted like smoke.
    This morning, I woke up on my damnable couch. Here I am again. How can I grasp onto anything like dismissal? I won't even waste time pretending I was dreaming again. There is no difference between this world and the other. It's all the same, and besides, I've a hangover from the very bowels of Hades.
    I can't make sense of it. I can't understand any one feeling that comes to me. It has all fallen apart, and please tell me; why are my eyes breathing? Through the window, the trees are skeleton hands that reach for the sky. A vain hope. I know what we'll both need by dusk. A trip to the bar.

---

May need further corroborating material on events that are accounted within. The being documented is reminiscent of codename: Sliverwood. It may still be in the general area of Clarion County. Agents to dispatch northbound, toward Allegheny National Forest. More to follow. Please destroy after reading.

-Agent T. Went
CIA district HQ (Dusk Division)
Quantico, District of Columbia