At dark they come.
He hears them in the dark, feels their fingers brush at his mind — the barest of touches — and they hurt. They bring pain, they want To Be so much.
Some probe, metal-like and cold, steel thoughts penetrate his brain, spiked, barbed, bladed. Sharp. Others flutter into existence, colourful and delicate. Soft. Their stroke is no more than the brush of a butterfly wing, but still they cut deep like the bladed ones, drawing his energy so he cannot function as human — he cannot cope.
He sits in one small room, conscious of the universe surrounding him, from finite to infinite, the smallest of atoms to the vastness of space, and what he should feel, he does not. He should feel alone.
His home is littered with junk-food wrappings, the decay of food filling the air around his unwashed body. They let him eat, they let him drink. They have to. They need his life-force, his brain, to complete their devilish designs.
Crawling beneath his skin, they scurry in the dark of night, mess with his dreams as he sleeps under day’s drab light. And today, today when he woke at twilight, after they gave him time to eat, he discovered the truth behind an impulse gnawing at him since the beginning four weeks ago. He discovered the truth and he is doomed.
They will win. He will do their bidding.
He tried to see them once, this esoteric enemy, but as he fumbled for the light switch, flicked it on, they disappeared beneath the cupboards and furniture of his mind, scuttled away to bathe in the dust and grease of his thoughts. Like roaches, they left only fleeting nuance on his visual cortex, a slight taste of sweet acid in his mouth. Frowning, he bent his head, grasping for the memory of them.
One was electric blue. Slower than its smaller brethren, its spindle-legs could barely carry its bloated, lace-veined body from his disgusted stare as it waddled away. He glimpsed stunted wing-casings laid over its back, and he wondered how such a creature could fly. An impossible act, surely. Then again, surely now anything is possible. He sighed.
Movement, and he’d turned to see the tail end of another. Again, it was slower than the others, its black legs mere stumps. But they were growing — segmented, insectoid. He thought of the tiniest. They were all growing.
Yet another held back, staring and unafraid of the light. As though taunting him, it bared fledgling, razor-edged fangs before scurrying into the shadows of the place where they hid. It became clear to him then: the place they came from was but a womb. Those creatures were birthed ready for life, for death. And now they fledged.
He unscrews the light bulb from its holder as he wonders how much time he has. He remembers the night they escaped that womb — the last in a long line dark nights, the worst of his life. A night that saw him grasping, with slippery fingers, the tail of a dark snake dripping misery from its fangs, a different kind of poison. Sue had left him. Before that, Mother had died. Before that, his job, money, his identity. Before that…? He shakes his head. Too much to remember. Too much. All gone — everything — all but his home, and that would not be long behind the rest.
It’s the snake, he knows. Take the ‘id’ from identity and what have you got left? The thought makes him smile. But this too is underdeveloped, thin.
Shivering beneath and within the universe, as the dark of night takes hold, he waits and they come again. This time it’s the black, the largest and slowest, which moves first as though sensing his failing resolve. Its teeth shine in his mind, its own mind dripping intent. He searches the darkness for a weapon — a gun — but these things will not be shot. They are birthed from his own wounded consciousness: Blue for Sue, Black for Jack. Which will win? Which will win?
At last the sound of key in lock. At last, the moment one will triumph. Theses creatures of instinct, entities of id — he can no more counter their impulse than he can talk her into coming back.
But she is back. He lifts the gun. Blue or Black?
The dark creature opens its mouth, stretching lips to reveal fangs already dripping blood — red, thick. “Jaaaaaaack,” it wheezes on a strangled breath.
And as she walks through the flat, stumbling toward him in the dark, he sighs — longing. She’s come to collect clothes, only clothes. Mundane, when so much is surreal here — real, here.
A brush of his cheek. The blue creature opens bright, shining wings and launches itself, flying to land upon his unwilling trigger-finger. The lace of vein spreads from its body to clutch and join with his, creeping flesh through his flesh. He feels his finger squeeze.
Her call freezes him. It. She stands in the doorway opposite. He can smell her confusion, hear her flicking the light-switch on then off. Off, then on.
“Jack, why aren’t the lights working?”
The tendrils of blue vein tighten. The Black’s jaws yawn.
A shaky breath. “Jack, I know you’re in here. Why are you sitting in the dark?”
He opens his mouth to answer, but instead, draws a strangled gasp…lets out a sob. The Blue squeezes tighter. His finger is beyond control. He can fight no more.
Raising the gun to his head, he lets the creature act out its nature.
But as the shot fills the darkness around him, it is the Black that shrieks with glee.
* * *
Sine Nomine has recently been gifted a free 3-5 year vacation, and expects to have plenty of free time to work on her horror fiction between visits by the special talking doctor.IMPULSE by Sine Nomine,