Her world was silver and glass and cold as ice. It hadn’t always been like this. Sometimes, she could remember the feeling of the sun on her skin or the warmth of another’s touch. These days, she barely remembered what it was like to have skin. She was a nightmare monster given substance and forced to haunt the slumber party set. She was blood red eyes and terror sealed between silver and glass. She was the specter of midnight and thrice spoken names.
She was a promise in the dark and a crossroads. The words of the game were a key to her prison and the players were her sustenance.
The forms were nearly observed and soon she would feed. Soon, the little sweet sixteen who dared challenge her memory would be nothing more than a statistic and a mystery.
The girl opened her mouth a third time.
They had known about the fire. They had even known the stories the neighborhood kids all seemed to tell about how some night you could still smell the smoke and still see figures at the windows, even when no one lived in the old house. But the Mason family didn’t have a choice. It was what they could afford. The house had been rebuilt, of course. There were all sorts of safety features built in now. Everything was as safe as they could possibly make it. But that did nothing to stop the sounds in the night. Tanya Mason, five years old and exuberantly excited to have her own room for the first time ever, had carefully set her horses out on the new desk that sat in her room as a promise of starting school at the end of the summer. Now, she lay on her bed in the dim light of her night-light and listened. There were the scratches in the walls. Everyone knew about those. Her Daddy said it was probably mice and had laid traps. There were the bangs from the basement. Daddy had called the oil man and he’d said the furnace was just fine. But here was the part that only Tanya knew about: the voices
The child would have powers. She had promised herself that when he had been born. This child would have powers one way or another. No matter what it took, she would not let her son be one of the few Normals of Scuttle Bay. Even if she was, even if her husband was. The question was how. It wasn’t in his blood, that much was clear. That left magic and science as her options. From the day he was born, she started in with everything she had. Vitamibe, spellwork, offerings left for Faeries and gods alike. None of it worked. Finally, she took her infant son to the coast. A pirate wreck lay deep under the water still and she could just barely see the shadow there. Holding the child by the ankle, she held him in the water. He would have powers. He would be a hero. He would make it in this place. Of that, she was convinced. The boy stopped moving. She pulled him out, a mad gleam in her eye. What great powers would he manifest? But his eyes were glassy and dull and he didn’t move
It was back. Or he was back, I suppose. The specter stood in the doorway with his cap pulled down low over his eyes. I pulled the blankets up higher and wiggles, making sure all of me was under. Blankets are a shield. Never leave the blanket. But he just stood there and stared at the floor. He never entered, never spoke. He would just stand there until he vanished.
It was me who changed the patterns.
I spoke, I asked who he was. He looked up slowly, his eyes dark and tormented. His words echoed in my mind and seemed to grip my soul. “I am your future.”
Then he was gone. He never did return.
The silence was overbearing, the silence and the darkness. The sky was empty now. No stars shone in the infinite and the only sound left to us was our beating hearts, hers and mine. We had come this far to stop her and only I remained. The mission was a failure. She held out her hand to me. I stood and accepted it.
“We will bring about a new age, Adam. Accept that. Accept that we will bring about a new people, a new future. Embrace your fate.”
Hers was a forked tongue that told only lies, but I ate them whole. I drew her into my arms and our lips met, tasting sweet and sticky. Her mouth was still, after all, covered in crimson horror. She smiled and let the bitten heart fall from her fingers, reaching to tangle her fingers in my hair.
“I accept my fate, Eve.”
There, in her starship, I understood madness.
We have arrived in the observation region and begun taking exploratory samples of water chemistry. Results will be included. We have also begun the preparations to deploy the deep-sea rover.
Have located a swarm of sea jellies. This swarm will serve as the first data point for our study. The swarm contains hundreds of individual sea jellies and we have set an undergrad to counting them.
I send the undergrad down to medical. I think she’s hallucinating. She swears one of the jellies exited the water. I’m going to check the tapes tomorrow and see what happened.
She was right. I don’t know what I’m seeing, but she was right. Worse, they did it more than once. I’m setting up more cameras. I need to send this data home and hope someone else can make something from it.
Vessel is being swarmed by jellies now. They’re in the air. Have barricaded ourselves below decks. Two of the crew were stung and they’re down in medical. It looks bad.
They may be flying, but at least the damn things haven’t learned to open doors yet. I radioed for help but I don’t think they believe me. All I can hope is that someone finds our footage and figures out what to do before these things swarm the mainland.
The quill scratched across the surface of the paper, the sound echoing in the long hall of the library. Knowledge poured from the mind into the book. All the while, screams hung silent, floating in the air. Waves of color and fear played throughout the room, emanating from where the prisoner hung on the wall. It was his knowledge that filled the book, his blood that formed the ink.
The librarian watched the pages as they filled until finally the book fell closed. Then, slowly, inexorably, he turned towards the holding cells.
“Bring forth the next.”