What terror, what fright, what dreadful delight to feel hair stand upon the nape of my black neck as if Tesla’s lightning surged through my skin. This feeling, this expression of my subconscious is but a mere smidgen of the infinitesimal matters of the heart (dubbed emotions, for lack of a better word), coming together within my rotting body. You may curiously wonder as to why I described my countenance as rotting, as to which I’d simply reply: because death is the sole answer to the numerous existential questions regarding life; and scientifically speaking, our cells decompose as we move through the days. But I digress, for it is my ardent desire to share this woeful tale of of disaster to whomever may be daring (or foolish depending on the hour of the night) enough to listen. It is in fact, the duty of the artist to enlighten the common man; this one does by one’s art. Art is many things but the one thing it is not is a lie. Come, let me reveal to you the terrorizing situation that led to the creation of this piece, and then you may judge the validity of my sentiments.
Fright. Fear. Apprehension. As a young boy, I was no stranger to these fundamental principles, accepting at an early age them as my rulers rather than joy or comfort. This may indeed come as somewhat of a surprise to those who had the opportunity to behold me in my boyhood; my childhood was relatively free of suffering and anguish. Both of my parents had worked their way towards the middle class, and were employed in stable positions that allowed them to purchase a beautiful two-story home; it was here within these walls that I first discovered fear. At any given moment I am able to call forth the exact instant my heart tasted the juices of dread for the first time.
At seven years old, I was more curious than any starving alley cat, sneaking around the house while my parents performed chores; however, during the summer months I was instructed to remain outdoors, which only furthered my budding desire for knowledge. The days under the blazing southern sun were spent playing with magnifying glasses, slaying imaginary beasts with sticks, and hurdling through the sprinkler system. If I had even a sliver of the wisdom I now contain I would have left the unknown alone and, in turn, removed this thorn of fear from my life; but alas time travel is, at present, still a modern myth. Upon waking on the morning of a fine Saturday in the North Carolina countryside, I was tasked with helping my father with his outdoor assignments. We’d cut the front and back lawn, washed both the cars, trimmed the overgrown shrubbery , and threw down pine straw. Normally, our routine lasted until lunch time but on this fated day, we happened to finish early, leaving me with free time.
Ah, I must once again break you from your concentration to add in the one major detail regarding my residence; although my family had almost two acres in their name and nearly all of it, except for my home, was covered by a dense forest. The trees stretched beyond the reaching of my naive eyes, thorn bushes were tangled in Hangman’s knots, and behind the back porch was an inaccessible zone, or so I had been told since birth. But, as all seven-year-olds do, I believed myself to ready to conquer nature (how foolish). Upon first glance, my bosom was filled with an expected timidity, and I do remember there was some anxiety but these emotions soon polymerized; and, instead desire was dripping from my tongue. I longed for whatever may have laid beyond the edge of the forest; a primal passion awakened, one that I’d only experienced once while riding my bike without gripping the handles. And soon, I looked to the forest for my freedom, but what laid within the thicket was far from liberty.
With the rest of the day ahead of me, I began what may have become my first act of planning. Hustling upstairs with the fervor of a hunter with a new bounty, I procured my blue Batman book bag (The Caped Crusader) from my closet, a blanket, flashlight, and a disposable camera (one always needs proof when dealing with the unknown). I savored the last bit of sandwich made from my mother’s hands; how delicious her meals had been when I retained my innocence, ignorant to the existence of the other world. In front of me was the forest, a realm of bark and rotting wood, a secret that nature had purposely intended to keep; yet here I was, with brevity and the scent of pine straw in my hair. I can not adequately recall a distinct entrance, for the forest sprawled from the edge of our property line to the horizon behind the wooden gates my father had erected. Unfortunately, intimate details regarding the journey are hazy, but somehow my situation changed from curious to cautious as my pathway back home was eventually lost.
How many hours I spent in this desolate expanse of land I may never truly know, although I remember watching the sun disappear behind the decaying leaves. Now, there are two types of forests: the normal variety with woods and insects, and then there is the forest after dark, which is more acquainted with alien planets and Grecian labyrinths. Night drew closer and the silhouette of my home was lost beyond the mass of evergreen. The chirping of crickets became the screeching of buried sirens, vines that once hugged the bark hung like nooses that begged for my pulsing neck, and it was as if the darkness itself were made physical. I dare say that if I were to have extended my hand, I would have made contact with something, a shadow, or phantom perhaps. However, my hands were occupied with tightly gripping the flickering yellow flashlight. Realizing that I’d failed to replace the batteries in my flashlight after the most recent summer storm, I was left with no choice but to make a mad dash in whatever direction seemed the easiest to traverse. My feet carried my body through the shadows, my arms were constantly being scraped by clawing branches and fallen trees halted my progress, until a decaying root caught the bulk of my boot and sent my frame crashing into a bed of thorns. Indeed, the suddenness of the accident had shocked me but even as my eyes welled, my heart had yet to fully taste the nectar of the macabre.
Although blessed with natural agility I was not a dextrous child, and the excision of my appendages from the thorn bush drained the last remaining voltage from my flashlight battery. Placing my thumb underneath my tongue, I tasted blood, my blood. Rich in iron, but detestable in flavor; I quickly spat the liquid upon the bark of the neighboring tree, mixing with the pus-like sap oozing out of an infected wound. There was a rustle underneath the bed of leaves, the tapping of paws against the loamy soil, and for a brief second I was entreated to the whisper of the nocturnal beasts. Low, inaudible growls that originated from every direction, even above, filled the air while light was still unable to be viewed. My poor senses, they were but mere pawns at the mercy of the vengeful forest. Dead branches were clawing at each other like rabid animals, and the wind was coursing through the lifeless leaves, twirling like bones hung on an abandoned roof. In my state of panic, I imagined the trees coming to life and forming a massive barrier, isolating me from the entire world. Loneliness constricted my neck as nature reminded me of man’s eternal curse: that death was ultimately solitary act. As I stood in this overgrown temple, surrounded by the sentinels of the earth, my budding soul cried out in despair; had I found the end in the forest?
Tearing through the frightening woods with my faux leather bag double strapped around my shoulders, my progress was halted by a sight so mysterious that my brain misinterpreted the visual sensation, rendering me immobile. Off in the distance, beyond a nestle of contorted branches appeared three small glowing orbs, positioned in a triangle formation (each orb was a corner), hovering almost six feet above the damp bed of the forest.
What is man’s fascination with light? By following illumination, we were expelled from the comfort of our mother’s womb, removed from the cave of Plato, and, now, aimlessly wandering through the woods. To seek the light is to leave the shelter of darkness. My mind was unable to rest nor accurately analyze the strange occurrence, for the shrieks of the hidden creatures were growing louder, and more ravenous. The cut upon my finger still leaked, but only slightly for saliva has some healing properties, yet it stung enough to remind me of my borrowed mortality.
As I tasted this crimson substance once more, I gazed upward and exchanged glances with the three orbs. It’s a bit hard for me to admit, but I felt as if I were the one being examined like a black lab rat for whatever mad scientist lay beyond the pool of light. The luminance partially disoriented my vision, the same way one momentarily loses sight while staring directly at the sun. Strangely enough, the lights weren’t just bright, they were in motion as well. Being a child of the outdoors, I have spent many a sunset by the lake; when I stared upon these lights before me, I saw the waves dancing with the rays in a similar fashion. There was a certain pressure in the air around the lights, barely noticeable by adults-as children we are more sensitive to forces. I imagine if the gravity of the earth was changed but two decimal points, it would feel somewhat similar to this. My tongue felt numb, and instead of sweating my arms shivered like they did in the snow. However, there was a putrid stench throughout the entire forest; my stomach lurches even now thinking about it. It’s odor was that of cremation chimneys, sodium bi-carbonate (household bleach), and, strangely enough, the wax of honeybees. What ecstasy I felt, a joy that can’t be explained through words; my nerves were on overload, and each node was firing in sync with the rest. These cosmic sensations that my body was experienced soon, however, began to fester; cast out of the illusion of pleasure, I realized that there was no logical explanation for these lights. Which, to a seven year old, means they are dangerous.
I can’t say for how long I ran through the woods, after falling into the thorns, but all throughout my sprint, I saw those same three lights. Their position never stayed the same, appearing on both left and right side as if…teleporting. My mind consciously wandered to this thought while my body continued on the escape route, but what of my soul? What was that pin needle sensation in my chest, or the clawing of my neck; it was fear. This fear, this sensation, this magnificent rush of adrenaline and anguish. It propelled my being into depths that I never knew existed, only to swim in the light until breaking through the surface. My lungs burst as I slowed to a light jog once again, for the lights had stopped following and the fear relieved itself from my body through the form of urine. I was heading to, what I perceived to be, the lights of my back porch; but I eventually stopped as I happened upon a running creek.
If you’re wondering if I failed to mention a creek, as I previously did with the forest, then I assure you that I do not make the same mistake twice. I have up til this point provided a truthful account of my status. No creek had been crossed; in fact, I was unaware that this body of water existed behind the confides of my home. My previous ventures had never carried me in this deep, and the woods I thought I knew were now against me. The current carried water from west to east, or north to south…maybe it is best to say from one side to the next for I had lost my way once again. Agony found me a viable vessel and screams of terror escaped my lips. A lone leaf sailed down the makeshift river, this tranquil sight momentarily calmed my hypersensitive nerves; this serenity was unfortunately broken by a ominous humming. An exquisitely beautiful melody full of innocence and sorrow; even my savage ears tickled at the presence of this tune. Its exact origin I could not precisely pinpoint, but it echoed as if it were quite far. I witnessed pitches and notes that I have been unable to hear even in the most established of symphony halls. The magic of the forest, the stories from bed time, this was undeniable proof that imagination is more than fiction; naturally, I conspired to remove my camera from the bag. Once, I had read that bats caught their prey by utilizing sonar waves, but as a child I was ignorant to the hunting rituals of beasts. No, this noise sounded coherent, lucid…alive. What, however, happened next still remains a mystery, for I can not recall the logic of choice behind my actions (if one believes in free will).
I whistled. My lips pursed up in the same fashion that my father had recently taught me, and I, somehow, harmonized with the eerie tune. A duet, an artistic expression of emotions filled the thicket. As my lips tasted the notes of the tune, I was entreated with my favorite sights: freshly unearthed dinosaur fossils, stars discovered with telescopes, a blue-ringed octopus in the bathtub, photographs of my parents faces. How such a performance made me witness these memories I cannot say, but it was as if my fate had been transcribed into a concerto. This passion continue to burn for a few ecstatic moments until the last visible will-o-wisp of the sunset was replaced by the indigo twilight. Afterwards, I realized that I was the only thing making noise, and when I stopped, my ears were greeted with the yawning of the sleepy earth. All the chattering creatures had gone silent and the wind failed produce a sound, even though it tumbled through the leaves before my very eyes. Below my feet the water splashed upwards, droplets slightly floated in midair, and I heard the faint pressing of a large object upon the bank’s foliage. As a child, my favorite vegetables were carrots, which I have to thank for my excellent night vision; but in this moment I failed to register anything except the three lights, which were now shining brightly on the opposing side of the bank.
Suddenly, the first one shifted an inch to the left, making my breath run icy cold despite it being in the midst of summer. Before I had time to react the right orb moved in the opposing direction, followed by the top which dropped down to the ground. In an instant, all three came back to the imaginary center and a few leaves from the highest branches glided down to their earthly graves. Frozen by terror, my legs gave out and I, once again, found myself intimate with the vegetation covering the forest floor; however, I held onto my consciousness with every ounce of my trembling being. Eventually, the three lights stopped moving, flickered twice, and vanished in the blink of an eye, leaving me alone on the edge of the bank. Rising to my feet with only fear and determination as my guides, I hurriedly set off in the opposing direction of the creek; surely my destination did not lie on the other side of the river and I dared not discover the origin of those strange bulbs. But that is the power of man’s curiosity, it has the power to overcome rationality whenever it sees fit. Unfortunately, at this time in my life, I had yet to discover Greek mythology or I would’ve known of Orpheus and nothing good ever comes from peering over the shoulder. Glancing back at the creek, I was treated to a sight so terrifying I struggle to finish this sentence.
The three lights had returned, except this time there was a fourth one located directly in the center of the smaller ones. It was much larger, resembling a wrecking ball; but it retained similar properties to the other bulbs. The hue of this particular orb was a deep blue, and it’s light illuminated the neighboring trees. As the three continued to revolve around this massive puddle of floating light, a thundering bellow erupted from the sky above, and in the position of the lights was now a grotesque shape. I fear that words would ultimately be useless to describe the silhouette that my eyes witnessed, but suffice to say there was no trace of humanity in any of it. The same melody I unconsciously recognized returned, but this time it was accompanied by dispassionate gargle, echoing from the void within the fourth orb. The thicket to my left rustled and I pivoted my body, while keeping my eyes locked on the strange display of luminance. A childlike giggle broke the melody, and both me and the figure simultaneously shifted in response to this noise. The air started to intensify and my blood seared as it flowed through arteries and the leaves beneath my feet started to rise upwards like helium balloons. I quickly detached myself from the heavy book bag, and dove away from the creek, to find my hands being covered by chilled mud. I crawled a few spaces until my back met the bark of some fallen tree, and I froze. The book bag that had just been on my shoulders was now being suspended in mid-air, along with the contents hanging directly below it.
This next confession may seem imaginary, but as an artist, I have no desire to do anything but express the truth, no matter how fantastical it may appear. In horror, I watched as an arm-like appendage covered in thick hair exited from the abyss of blue light and rummaged through my floating belongings. A mass of yellow flesh (I use the term flesh loosely), oozed out from the base of the arm onto the earth, and the leaves burst into smoke. I witnessed a set of what I’d call…fingers take hold of my flashlight. Somehow, this thing managed to click the power button and the beam shot out of the lens; however, it didn’t travel very far because it was reflecting off of something above. An eye. An eye appeared a few inches above the orbs. Grotesque and enlarged, it had the same cloudiness that can be found in the irises of cadavers, and instead of a circular pupil there were seven lines in a hexagon formation.
This thing had yet to discover me, and being a seed of Adam, I dared to commit a forbidden act. Moving with the precision of a sniper, I loaded my camera, adjusted the lens to my liking, and took a deep breath of the forest air. A quick burst of light temporarily blinded me and the orbs reacted similarly. Suddenly, three more smaller appendages sprung forth from the original orbs and gripped the edge of my flashlight while the eye and the larger orb headed towards my direction. As they neared, I threw my camera around my back and hid behind the log that had just been my support. There was a metallic shrill, a whine that sat in the base of one’s inner ear, that was becoming increasingly louder as I laid perfectly still. The horrid stench had returned, and I could hear the sound of thumping on the ground. I was but a slave, and fear was my master! The thumping stopped, and slowly the whine in my ear receded. Cautiously crawling over the log, I saw the orb and eye returning back to the three smaller ones. From my floating flashlight, the bulb and two of the batteries were removed and the materials were all engulfed by a disorienting flash of magenta. The eye was suddenly gone, and the mass of flesh was now a puddle of melted blue slime. Just as the appendages had appeared, so too did they retreat back to the depths, similar to how a turtle finds refuge within it’s shell, leaving me horrified and stiff, with the pulsing orbs.
The luminous sphere danced around the forest and the silhouette of the indescribable being dissolved into the darkness of the tree-line. My flashlight came crashing down to the floor and I immediately dashed to inspect it, but quickly halted when I noticed the primordial slime that covered the handle. Everything in the forest was as it had been, except me, and now my book bag was missing; oh how I loved that satchel. I made one final attempt at locating my bearings, finally utilizing the darkness to my advantage. The presence of the strange orbs could no longer be felt and I realized that this was my opportunity to find the back porch. In the distant, through a bramble of thickets, I saw an orange light flickering on and off: the signal to come home. I shielded my face and bowled through whatever branches laid between me and my home. It seemed that the adrenaline released during my “encounter” had provided my legs with enough strength to carry me from this creek all the way back to the exterior of the wooden gate. Shortly afterwards, I found refuge in the bathtub on the second story of my home; the warm water cleansed my countenance of fear, but, later in the evening, my dreams were haunted by the twirling of lights between dead branches.
“And this photograph is the image of that…thing in the forest?” Chloi inquired while inspecting the frame.
“Indeed it is. I’ve included it in every exhibit I’ve partaken in: from Milan, to Thailand, and even here in Switzerland. I’m hoping that maybe another patron will recognize it, and possibly shed some light on it.”
“Mhhm, I see. Well for abstract art, I do say this piece is rather ravishing.”
“Thank you, your compliments are far too kind. A copy of it is included in the bundle you purchased.”
“And your tale, most exciting. I love a good man-versus-nature story. Only recently my husband and son were hiking through one of the trails on the Alps when they were separated. My boy, Canas, was only gone for a few hours and he was the one who actually found us. Thankfully, we are in the warm season, or I fear we’d be having a different conversation.”
“I’m glad to hear that he is safe.”
“Well yes, he may be young, but he is quite the resourceful one. He returned to us with no bruises or broken bones, but the experience has somewhat…shaken him up. But, alas, I’m beginning to ramble and I know how dreadfully boring my monologues can sometimes be. I bid you adieu, I look forward furnishing my home with some of these exotic pieces.”
The aristocratic woman lifted her dress, and trotted through the museum with her designer bag hanging off of her arm. Taking his seat, the young artist fumbled through the metallic cash box while whistling an eerily serene tune. As Chloi made her way out of the museum, her son poked his head from behind her legs and turned back to the artist. The boy, who looked no older than eight, had a strange pair of eyes; they were filled with curiosity, wonder, and…fear. In his hand he carried a foot-long baby blue flashlight while his left was tightly clutching his mother’s dress. Taking note of his gaze, the artist cheerily waved but his gesture received no response; it was as if the child were in a trance, caught in an illusion that the artist, alone, somehow understood. A quick tugging of the arm by his mother removed him from the mirage and the family made for the door, but not without the boy turning back once more to frighteningly stare at the traveling artist.
“Now, now gentlemen, please be gentle with these canvases, I’ve paid a small fortune for them.”
“Where do you want us to hang this one up?”
“Next to the mantle, please. I think this will look great with the other pieces in here.”
“And this one?” one of the moving men grunted while dabbing a bead of sweat.
“Leave that in storage, it’s a fraud. Only authentic pieces will be visible in my home.” The photograph was kept in its sealing and placed on the side of the woman’s recliner couch.
A timid voice broke through the chatter of the moving men.
“But mommy, that’s a picture of the lights .”
“What lights, dear?”
“The ones I saw on the big mountain.”
“Darling, don’t be delirious. This is obviously a fake, and besides it was taken halfway across the world.” She knelt down and brought her son’s soft cheeks to her face, “I told you Canas, those lights were other hikers. They were using glow sticks to search for you.”
With a pout upon his face the young boy pulled his head away and sulked in the corner of the regal living room. Walls were covered with impressionistic style paintings, the bookshelf carried names from Moses to Nietcheze, and marble sculptures of angels sat on the corner of the end table. “But I saw dancing lights too. The one the funny man was taking about.”
“Honey, that’s enough. It’s past your bed-time.” The mother unzipped her riding boots and neatly placed them next to the shoe shelf in the hallway closet. However, Canas was on the verge of tears, upset that his claims were being ignored (as most children’s claims are).
“Can we please put the picture up? In my room?” he pleaded with his blonde haired, hazel-eyed mother.
“How about we put it in the hallway, just outside of your room? Your father would scold me like a schoolgirl if you were to get nightmares from it.”
“Okay!” With a cheer, the boy sprinted into his room while Chloi embraced the smile that had arrived upon her face.
“Gentlemen, if you don’t mind, please find a place for this.” She said before returning to the master bedroom to don a more comfortable attire. The woman’s appearance dramatically shifted depending upon her wardrobe; nearly forty-five, she was still mistaken for resembling a thirty year old when wearing her tailored pieces. As she shed her clothes, the mother unhooked the golden locket that was hung around her neck, glanced at the picture inside, and brought the accessory close to her bosom before placing it in her jewelry box.
Tucking her drowsy child into bed, Chloi loosened her hair and nestled the comforter around the boy’s neck. She gently kissed his forehead and stroked his blonde hair to the right side before tip-toing towards his door. Exiting quietly, the woman retrieved her glass of aged Cabernet Sauvignon from the shelf in the hallway, and took a hearty sip while wandering back to the staircase. The clicking of her heels momentarily stopped, and the woman came face to face with the photograph that she’d purchased from the enigmatic artist.
Upon first glance, everything looked relatively normal, the trees obscured the horizon, and the creek below reflected the light from the flash. However, the image was overall well composed, and encouraged the mind to form its own conclusions; it fit the criteria for art, and thus deserved a place in her home. Removing her finger from the frame, the woman quickly gulped down the entirety of her glass and was about to retire to the master bedroom when a faint lull escaped from the underneath her son’s bedroom door. Pressing her ear against the wood, the woman attempted to identify the sound. At first it was nearly inaudible, similar to a gargle; but it slowly evolved into a rhythmic tune. Her son had been advancing in his piano lessons, but this melody was beyond notes and scores; it seemed like it was being played from a great distance, beyond the reaches of man. The wine glass shattered on the floor as recognition finally dawned on the woman; the familiar tone, it had been the same one the eccentric artist was humming.
Suddenly, the still photograph upon the wall had an eerie luster; sharpened details sprung forth from the inked matte and the dense thicket suffocated the hallway, leaving the woman gasping for air. Her body slid down the opposing wall, with eyes deadlocked onto the image, ardently examining the contrasted thorn bush for any signs of life. The humming abruptly stopped and, in the stillness, Chloi shrieked in horror as her eyes finally registered the appearance of a bizarre figure. It had enlarged legs similar to that of a tarantula, an oblong-shaped eye, a sickly thin tentacle with a strange fluid oozing out of a pore onto a mass of steaming flesh. Upon glancing at the silhouette, the woman questioned the very nature of her own reality; until her thoughts, and fears, turned to her son who was still behind the door. The grotesque figure remained burnt into her imagination and appeared in greater detail when she shut her eyes. Her sight was glued to the frame, as if patiently waiting for the figure to spring to life from the ink. A tuft of dust floated into her lens, and the woman blinked twice to regain her focus; however, she’d lost sight of the phantom within the photograph, or maybe, it was never there to begin with.
While her wits were still sharp, the mother quickly recalled the events surrounding her son’s sudden disappearance; yet she was terrified regarding what would happen if she were to discover commonalities between her son’s account and the tall tale of the traveling artist. A blood curdling shriek escaped her throat, for across the closed blinds of the hallway window was a pulsing of strange lights. The beams rotated in a circle, causing three small orbs to dance across her ceiling. Growing larger, the spheres stopped moving near the light fixture, but within seconds a police siren began to wail. Crime was rare in this district, but the occasional robbery brought law enforcement out every few months.
Bursting from the door, her son ran to her side and valiantly embraced her. Saying not a word, Chloi cradled the child in her arms; the orbs disappeared as the echoes of the siren grew more distant, but the woman was not convinced that they were alone within their home. As the commotion of the outside world dissipated, she unhinged her son from her grip, allowing the young boy to return to his room, but not without first showering him with kisses. Her unexplained, and frantic, actions had terrified the poor child; yet, since there was no visible threat, she believed this to be the ideal choice in an effort to no longer spook him.
Flashlight in hand, he said not a word while he returned; the boy had a knack for reading under the covers. Gently, the door closed behind him and once again the woman was alone in the dimly lit corridor. Humored by the false scare, Chloi smirked while retrieving the bits of glass from off the floor, accidentally nicking her thumb in the process. Although barely visible, the wound oozed profusely and she brought the finger into her mouth since there were no wrappings in the vicinity. The air in the hallway was still, and a foreboding darkness had engulfed much of the corridor, leaving only trace amounts of light coming from her son’s bedroom. After the fragments were disposed of, the aristocrat was about to walk to her room when she felt a tugging sensation at the base of her rib cage. Was this truly a work of art or a practical hoax?
The photograph had beckoned her against her initial judgements. Her mind swirled with madness and orgasmic ecstasy while searching the image for the being once more, but its form failed to produce this time. If the artist tale were true, and this photograph was proof of it, then how could she deny it? There was no need for the man to spin such a tale just to increase the value of the edit and, although foreign, his aura was one of rustic nobility and virtue. Her eyes traced the dense thicket once more before coming to the right corner, staring intently at the signature upon the image. Suddenly the light in her son’s room extinguished, and the hallway was pitch black, enshrouding the frame in darkness. The blood from her wound had stopped flowing and Chloi carried the shards in her hand, until one of them reflected a deep indigo blue against the decorative walls. Unable to immediately determine the origin of the luminance the woman inspected the fragments first, finding that they were indeed, regular shards of a broken glass; the wine that was housed within the cup was also too dark to resemble the hue. Swiftly, she turned, and her face displayed such a horror mimicked only by those who must identify a loved one in a morgue.
From underneath the base of her son’s door, a ray of blue light had been cast upon the shards. The door burst open, and Chloi immediately dove for her son’s bed, even though the darkness had made it near impossible to see (mother’s are always able to locate their child). Beams from the flashlight whizzed across the young boy’s room, bathing the walls as a prison searchlight would do during a riot. Floating near the ceiling was an oversized sphere of undulating light, glowing as if it were lava that had just erupted from a dormant volcano. Her fingers ran through her’s son’s hair and she felt the clamminess of his skin; however, the slight thump of his bird chest calmed her nerves, only slightly though. Moving with inhuman agility, Chloi turned off the light and shielded her son’s eyes; he need not witness this strange occurrence, lest his nightmares intensify.
In a flash of magenta, the bulbs upon the chandelier burst, as well as any electronic device within the vicinity, except the flashlight, which ran on disposable batteries. The woman kept her lips sealed, but her son who was still in shock from his disappearance, began to violently shout and suddenly the air changed in the room. Whatever sounds may have been coming from the streets below had been eliminated, and she struggled to signal in on the panting of her own combustible breath; even the boy’s scream was completely inaudible despite his mouth being wide open. The stray light from a car shone through the blinds, piercing the darkness just enough to reveal a shape, an oval-shaped mass of…something that was suspended in mid-air. Chloi shifted positions to the floor, and instructed her child to quickly hide underneath the bed, which he did without any hesitation.
Hanging above, the shadows writhed like a web of serpents and out of the blackness appeared the clouded eye. It had been just as the artist had said; this eye, this being, this otherworldly monstrosity that was unbounded by the feeble understanding of man, was real. Chloi felt it’s gaze turn upon her and the large orb of light reacted by pulsing violently, nearly triggering a seizure. The hair like appendage slithered out of the void, and it patted the mattress of the twin-sized bed as if it were searching. Or rather…hunting. Defenseless, and still in utter disbelief, the mother remained immobilized by fear, save for her eyes which were constantly seeking any recognizable shape upon the being. Her hallucination was finally broken by the sniffling of her son; noises had returned a few minutes before, but the overloading of her senses prevented her brain from registering any sound.
With it’s gaze still set upon the woman and it’s arm violently thumping against the bed, the being suddenly stopped moving. A frigid chill courses through Chloi’s veins, although her skin was scorching; if possible, she would have removed herself from her own dermis. Small objects in the room began to rattle out of nowhere and, in terror, the woman watched her hair slowly rise above her eyes, along with toys, trophies, and the mattress protecting her son. Within seconds, the entirety of the room was floating in mid-air and the child laid curled into a ball, with tears and other bodily fluids leaking out of every orifice. Reflexively, the woman scurried across the floor and shielded her son from whatever was coming next; but the armlike appendage froze once more, giving them a window of opportunity to escape. Sprinting out of the room, with her child behind her, Chloi made a mad dash towards the door; the gaze of the eye never left their back. While hurrying out of the room, the young boy managed to drop his personal flashlight, the same one he’d used to read stories underneath the covers when sleep evaded him, or when imagination was at it’s most pliable. It had also been the only object that he’d brought back from his journey on the hike, never leaving his side, until now.
Back in the hallway, Chloi attempted to race towards the stairway, but terror had seized her son and he fainted. With no other visible means of escape or protection she resorted to one final action, prayer. Yet, she was too afraid to even know who or what she was praying to. A chant escaped her lips while the air pressure intensified to the point where her bones felt like they shattered into sediments. Various colors and lights flashed from underneath the door, vividly painting the hallway; if it were under safer circumstances, one would have even made a wish after gazing upon such beauty. Closing her eyes, with child tucked underneath her stomach, she braced herself for the worst: would the arms burst through the door and impale her, maybe its touch would melt the membranes of her cells, or maybe it would sprout dozens of tentacles, each ready to constrict and suffocate her. A blinding hot white light appeared, stopping the eerie revolving of colors, and above she heard something that resembled a bomb exploding.
Gone. Vanished. The lights, the putrid stench, the grip of the beings presence was no longer tangible. A groan escaped the mouth of the Canas; he’d finally stirred himself awake. Gripped by panic, Chloi’s hold was so tight on the child that he struggled to breathe; she eventually loosened her arms and blankly stared forward at the photograph. A series of bangs radiated from the boy’s room and, daringly, she opened the door to confirm with her eyes. Everything was back upon the floor, slightly out of place, but still in a location similar to its original; however, sitting on the bed, next to the young boy’s flashlight, was a slime covered book bag, with a destroyed image of what appeared to be The Caped Crusader.