Randy slowly became aware of his surroundings, his consciousness rising up from a nighted abyss inhabited by all manner of shadowy things that slithered under, around, and over one another. Opening his eyes he saw by the shadows growing long on the sheer face of the wall above that evening was fast approaching. He didn’t want to be out here after dark. He’d heard stories, whispered tales of eerie voices, and odd animals that roamed the dense woods around the burned out husk of a summer cabin. Of how something that was supposed to have died in the fire, really didn’t.
He tried to move but it was no use, everything below his waist was numb and unresponsive, and though his arms appeared to have survived the fall intact, there was not enough strength in them to pull him the distance he knew he had to cover to escape the ridge.
It felt like something was leaking from his eyes, nose, and mouth and he ran his hand across his face, his palm and fingers covered in blood when he pulled it away.
He struggled to lift his head and look down at what he though for sure would be a mangled pair of legs. He was surprised to find both of his lower limbs just where they were supposed to be. One of his shoes was missing; his big toe sticking through out the hole in his sock. He focused on his right foot, trying to wiggle his toes, but it was no use, they pointed unmoving at the darkening sky above.
His mother had warned him that it might one day come to this. That instead of dishing it out like he’d become accustomed to doing, he would be on the receiving end. While she might have been right in this instance, what did she really know? All she ever did was sit around the house on her fat ass and watch television. She couldn’t even get up to go to the bathroom half the time and usually wound up pissing in the adult diaper she wore.
If she’d lose some of that damn flab maybe his old man would leave his sister alone. But hell his sister deserved everything that happened to her, running around the house half naked like she did. Sometimes all she wore was an oversized tee shirt, acting like she was still a little kid. On several occasions even he’d been tempted, but he always stopped himself, ever mindful that she was his sister. Now she had a baby and Randy wasn’t entirely sure if it wasn’t his half brother.
From his left came a soft skittering sound, tiny claws moving swiftly across naked stone, approaching him with a stealthy ease. He turned his head in that direction as the sound shifted until it was behind him, and he strained his neck to catch a glimpse of what might be stalking him. He caught a brief flash of something white and furry as it slid behind a flat stone. A pointed snout emerged from the other side of the stone, followed by a reptilian eye that watched him with a detached predatory interest.
“Get away from me,” he screamed. But the animal remained in place, unfazed by his shout. Slowly it moved towards him, revealing more of its grotesque body. Here and there among the matted fur were spots of black, scaly, flesh. Rocking back and forth across its back as it approached was what looked like a tortoise shell, and from its belly an extra leg hung uselessly, bouncing from the stony ground as it moved towards him.
It had to be a dream, a nightmare unleashed from the dark side of his psyche, a hallucination brought on the shock of his fall.
Randy screamed as the animal closed on his head and he put his hands up to ward off the creature’s approach. His fingers brushed against coarse fur, confirming the creature’s existence, extinguishing Randy’s hope that it was nothing but a bad dream. Upon contact with the animal he became aware of a vast presence that towered over them, unseen, an ancient thing that had lain dormant for millennia.
The animal hopped up onto his chest and he shuddered at the feel of its claws moving across the fabric of his shirt. Then it was directly above his face, looking down into his eyes, that reptilian orb glowing with an internal light. One eye was larger than the other, each one different, giving the animal a crazed appearance.
“Please,” he whimpered.
The animal’s body convulsed, its mouth hanging open, hacking as if it were trying to dislodge a fur ball. A single strand of drool hung from the animal’s chin as Randy swatted ineffectually at the animal with his hands. The sensation of that coarse fur against his flesh sent chills racing up and down his spine. The drool came into contact with his open mouth, and he stopped squirming.
His mind had been invaded by another presence that watched from the growing shadows at the base of the cliff. An ancient thing that reached out across the gulf of time to caress his thoughts. He felt the progress of the drool on his face, searching fingers of moisture that slipped into his mouth.
The animal hacked again, arching its back, digging its claws into his flesh as it struggled to expel the object in its throat. Something small and gray fell from the animal’s mouth, onto his chest, slick with saliva.
He couldn’t see it even though he struggled to look down at himself but it remained hidden behind his chin. He felt the object crawling around, heard the faint beating of wings.
Then he felt it crawling across the flesh of his throat, the sensation sending chills rippling across his flesh as it clambered over his chin, and stopped to regard him. All he saw was a flat, triangular head atop a slender body. There didn’t appear to be any eyes and he watched helplessly as it moved over his lips, those tiny feet grasping at his flesh, before it hunkered down and vanished into his nose.
He felt it inside, clawing its way into that tight space, tearing into tender flesh as it passed through his nasal cavity. Reaching its target Randy experienced a sharp pain as the invader sliced through the flesh of his sinus cavity and squirmed through the opening into his cranial cavity. Here all sensation of movement stopped.
Suddenly he was sweating profusely as the invader began dumping alien DNA into his system. Chills washed across his body as goose bumps danced over his flesh. He was dimly aware of the animal, sitting to his right, watching patiently.
It felt like his head was going to explode as the unused potions of his brain were awakened from their forced slumber and every memory he had, every recollection from his past, paraded through his thoughts.
He saw himself as a child, screaming as his father whipped him with his belt, laying welts across the backs of his legs. His mother sitting in her chair, indifferent to his pain, her attention focused on the glowing screen of the television in the corner of the room. There was no love in this home, no nurturing to speak of, only a bitter silence as two people forced together refused to part.
He screamed as pain washed through his body, flowing from the center of his back where his spine had been broken by his fall. His cry echoing off the sheer wall of the cliff, fading into the approaching night as deep shadows gathered around him and a whispering voice came to him, carried on the current of his own blood flowing through his veins.
“Become one with us.” That sinister voice hissed in his mind as images of alien places and beings flooded his thoughts, a collective memory unleashed by this unlikely savior.
They were snapshots of a desolate place beneath a blue sun that cast little warmth. A place of misery, of a collective pain and suffering shared by the multitude whose whispering voices filled his thoughts with the steady hiss of white noise that settled into the background. Yet amid all the suffering there lay a glimmer of hope, of becoming, and ascending above the seething masses into the light of a new reality that beckoned with the promise of unfulfilled divination. It was what all aspired to but only a few could attain. The golden ring that promised a life of leisure upon the backs of the downtrodden for that was their way.
“Become one with us.” That sweetly sinister voice beckoned to him and he embraced all that it offered. A child of misery coming into his own.
“Yes,” he said in answer, accepting that which was offered with an open heart and open arms, fully aware that to do so would hasten the demise of his own individuality. But what did he have to live for? Another two years of abuse at his father’s hand? His mother’s loving indifference to his suffering?
He struggled to sit up, bracing himself against the pain as his legs writhed with a mind of their own. He felt like he had been reborn, emerging from the other side of his dilemma, into the dawning age of a new reality.
Once he had gotten to his feet the animal that had approached him walked away. It stopped to look back at him.
“I’m supposed to follow you?” He asked, only dimly aware of the growing night around him, fully immersed in the memories of this presence that had invaded his body. He’d heard the whispered warnings about coming to this place. The frightened tales of an eternal solitude that wrapped this blasted place in its embrace, stories filled with fear.
They had been wrong. There was nothing to fear, nothing at all to be afraid of.
He followed the animal to its den in the rocks, a narrow crevice that would not do for him, yet he was compelled to squeeze into that tight space. Something lay within that small fracture, calling to him with a sinister voice.
Reaching into the narrow crack his fingers brushed against ancient steel. Upon contact he felt their presence even stronger than before. Watching him with impassive eyes from the shadows that pressed in close on all sides.
Pulling that ancient blade to his chest he sat in the shadows as the night progressed around him and a full moon rode high across the purple sky, gazing down upon the surface with one glowing, impassive, eye.
He’d show them, every last one of them, he’d show them all. Especially his father who’d told him when he was little that he’d never amount to more than a steaming pile of shit. Mrs. Wilkinson, his English teacher, she’d given him an F on his final exam, denying him his right to move onto the tenth grade with the rest of his class. They expected him to repeat the ninth grade, well he’d show them when the time came, he’d show them all as they cowered at his feet begging for their miserable little lives.
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