She heard sound, an echoing thunder. She felt a hard damp surface beneath her. She saw dim shapes.
“Where am I?” The sound of her new voice startled her.
You are in a place called a cave, by a vast planetary body of water. Something named an ocean.
The voice echoed in the confines of the craggy tidal cave. Or possibly in her head. Either way, it didn’t matter. She felt safer. “You’re here. Good.”
Of course I am here.
She smiled. Then frowned. “The eternal darkness is gone.” She shivered. She’d miss it, the inky black chasm of home. A tear trickled down her cheek. another followed. She touched her hand to the moisture. “Oh. I’m leaking. Strange.”
They are called tears. An emotional reaction.
Her lip quivered and a teardrop trickled on its skin. She tasted the wet with her tongue. Salty. Food tasted that way sometimes. A breeze drifted along her skin and she shivered.
“I don’t like it here. This place is so different. Not like home. The Void is comforting, dark and cold. Silent.”
It is not your home anymore. Remember your task.
She closed her eyes, anger surging, and insisted, “The Void is home. I was born there. The real me. Not this fleshy thing I am now. I don’t like it. I want to leave. Why did you send me here?”
Because it is your time.
She sighed, fists clenched. She knew this. She mustn’t hesitate. She looked up, her new eyes blinded by a shaft of light flickering into the cave. She blinked and raised her hand to shield her vision. That surprised her.
“I have limbs. Odd.” She shook her arms, and then her legs. “Only four. A pity. You told me Father grew ten when he left the Void.”
A different place, a different world. Another dawning.
“True, but I would have liked more.”
We adapt to the species. These humans have four.
“Humans? An odd name. What are they like?”
They are violent; an admirable trait. Yet, they are soft and weak as well. They have strange beliefs such as compassion and mercy.
“Mercy.” She shuddered at the thought. “Truly, an inferior creature.”
Indeed. But they will serve the Void. As will you while you remain here.
“How long? How long must I stay?” Her voice betrayed her impatience and wistful longing.
As long as it takes. Do not be weak.
Disapproval echoed in the voice.
She sighed, well rebuked. “Of course.”
Go now. Walk this world. Do what you were born to do. Feed us, child, nourish us. The Elders have blessed you. Make us proud. Fulfill your purpose.
“Yes.” She straightened her new spine and smiled. “I will make you all proud.”
She stood on wobbly legs and walked slowly out of the cave. As she stumbled into the sunlight, water pools turned black and putrid and seaweed shrivelled to dust. She heard the voice instructing her.
Spread the Void. Char the ground in your wake, poison the waters, choke the air with our taint, pile this planet high with the corpses of humans so we may devour them.
She smiled, a dark glow in the soulless hollow of her essence. Ahead of her stretched a pristine beach waiting to be laid to ruin. In every footstep she heard the echo of the voice.
Leave only death and ash, child. Be the Destroyer.
~ A. F. Stewart
© Copyright 2019 A. F. Stewart. All Rights Reserved.
They unfurled from the sky, glistening against the hatching sun, glistening with their own secretions; glistening with newly absorbed blood.
At first, Boston thought them to be a series of banners trailing behind prop planes high above the city’s stretching fingers, marketing genius promoting a new brand. Down, down, curling down in slow motion, cleaving with surgical precision the clouds. Boston sipped his bitter coffee, wincing as it singed his tongue, noting how odd the greenish-gray hue of those tentacles appeared towering over his head.
He spit caffeine from his mouth.
Gathering beneath the common din of the city, the marching feet, the impatient idling of cars, Boston heard it at last. Suction, similar to that from a vacuum; felt it, the popping inside his ears.
A final tentacle unfurled.
The woman ahead of Boston seized his attention. Slowly, her long, ebony hair lifted until taut at the roots. Beginning at the hem, her sundress flipped upside down, rising up, up, exposing an hourglass figure, thong, strapless bra. Rising up, up as her arms jut crooked over her head, mere tree branches; rising up, up, tearing free from her body, along with her hair.
With morbid curiosity, Boston stared at the bloody scalp, drifting skyward, a lost balloon.
A man clutched Boston’s forearm. Boston met his panicked eyes, two bloodshot orbs overcome with stress, a long night of gin. Like grapes, they popped from the man’s skull, claimed by the mounting suction. Sightless, the man staggered; his arms as well snapped above his head, the sky snatching his suit clean; his jacket, the pants. His tie a noose around his throat, the man gasped until his head parted from his shoulders.
Boston walked into the scalpless woman, outstretched hands sticky against her tissue exposed back. Yelping, he pulled away, pulled away from the muscle parting her bones.
High, high above, the tentacles undulated; the blood, the gristle rose.
The city reacted the way a city would react; a breakdown of cohesion; a canyon of screams. People scrambled; people shoved. Boston shoved with them, elbowing his way without direction, pumping his limbs without momentum. The morning crashed, an ocean rippled by pulpy waves of red.
A bus jumped the curb, slamming into a newspaper stand. Headlines fluttered, black and white confetti telling of a world gone mad. Frantic hands beat upon glass; Boston watched skin flutter from open windows of the bus like toilet paper spun from its reel. He looked away.
From baby strollers burst small fountains of pink spray.
Lower, lower the tentacles rolled, revealing serrated suckers, awful, greedy mouths absorbing human existence, its inherent disease. Boston struggled against the tide of commuters; the surge swept him away. Ahead, he spied a bodega.
Feverishly, Boston pushed against fleshless mannequins, shoving aside bones. Seconds thundered in his ears. He battled across the street until breathlessly grabbing the door; a pair of liver spotted hands resisted opposite the glass. Boston tugged, felt the tug matched in turn. “Open the door,” Boston hissed, wrenching the handle from the hands. The old man jerked forward; utilizing the momentum against him, Boston flung him into the frenzy of the crowd. Boston slammed the door shut as the suction teased the top of his head.
“Poppa,” the choked voice of a clerk from behind the register. Boston ignored her. Death, dust; Boston inhaled it all. His eyes darted about the store, spying shelves pockmarked with emptiness, crumbling walls.
Crumbling walls. Boston exhaled; he would survive this. “Lock the door.”
“Mi esposo se ha ido!”
“Lady, lock the door.”
“Mi esposo, mi esposo!”
Chaos splattered the windows; the glass blew inward. Boston fell, toppling a display case of Goya beans. He kicked them from beneath his feet, propelling his body forward toward the crumbling walls. Boston sunk his hands into a hole of deteriorating drywall, yanking frantically. Dust caught in his throat; he kept pulling, widening the hole, exposing the crumbling lath behind the wall, the electrical wires running along a wooden stud. Just enough space existed between the lath, the drywall, for him to squeeze between.
The clerk’s hysterical shouts for her husband transformed into something far worse. Boston refused to turn; he heard the tear of fabric, the wet pluck of teeth from the jaw. He tore free another section of drywall then hauled himself face first inside the space. Boston whimpered as a nail dug into his back. Inch by inch, he wiggled deeper along the interior of the wall, nose scraping the lath.
Boston held his breath a long, long time.
He held his breath even as his flesh slathered the lath. Craning his skinless neck, Boston glimpsed a tentacular club molesting the wall studs. His eyes ruptured; the world turned dark save the sound, the sound of vacuumed suckling, a newborn at the breast.
The sloppy sound of marrow drawn straight from Boston’s bones.
~ Joseph A. Pinto
© Copyright 2016 Joseph A. Pinto. All Rights Reserved.