It started with a photo; it was dark, the moon was golden against the sky, the stars were out, and I thought that my iphone and filters were all that I needed to be a master photographer. So I pulled over on the side of the highway last Monday night and snapped a photo for my Twitter banner. If I caught the moon and stars, hell even just the moon, I thought it would be a success.
Unfortunately, I caught something else.
When I loaded the image up, it was . . . purple. Distorted. I figured it was just a bug from uploading while I was on Highway 26, the internet is SUPER bad out there. I refreshed the image, but every time I pulled the screen down to reload it came up as purple for a second, then it would clear up. I considered taking another photo but the road was pitch black and I’d seen coyotes and foxes out there during the day, so I figured I was better off returning to my motel. I had driven across Washington State for work; they send me out to our Lind facility a couple times a year, which is smack in the middle of BFE, but a beautiful drive both ways. I’ve taken a lot of photographs along the way, mostly dilapidated farm structures or wildlife, a few shots of the cliffs, but that particular night was too lovely to miss.
When I got back to the motel, I checked into my room and pulled the image up on my phone. It was still purple, even on the wi-fi there. The picture was grainy, not as awesome as I had hoped, but still a keeper; however the purple loading flash kept happening, and after you’ve been an IT guy for most of your career life, weird tech glitches get under your skin like no other. So I pulled the image up on my laptop.
Now I wasn’t loading the internet, now I was simply opening the file directly off my hard drive, but that damn purple flash kept happening. In fact, it was happening more often; as I was sitting there, squinting angrily at the image on my screen, that purple flash kept popping up erratically. The longer I scanned the image, the more the glitches would occur. I didn’t know if I was just tired, or if my mind was playing tricks on me, but it was driving me insane. Something about the image seemed to be making my eyes act up as well, because I seemed to be having a lot more floaters than usual.
You know what floaters are, right? Those weird, semi-transparent things that drift around in your vision just on the edge of your focus, and every time you shift your gaze to try and focus on them they bounce away? I’ve had a lot of them ever since I was a kid, when I got hit in the face and it damaged my eye. The doctor explained to me that there are microscopic fibers in the sclera that become more evident as the vitreous humor in your eye thins; my grandfather used to say that just like your face got wrinkles as you aged, so did the rest of you, and he called them ‘wrinkles in the eye’.
After a few minutes, I realized that there was something in the corner of the image; I’d thought it was a particularly large floater, but it didn’t go away when I looked at it. In fact, it almost seemed like the purple flashes happened when I passed my eye over it. Something was there, but I couldn’t quite make it out, which is when I got the bright idea to use the 30” flat screen in the hotel room as a monitor. I went out to my car and fished out a spare HDMI cable, then returned and hooked my laptop up to the TV.
When the image appeared on the screen it did the purple flash thing again, but it was more powerful. I actually heard the electromagnetic field of the TV, that high or low pitched whine you sometimes hear when a TV fires up, warble and distort when the purple color flash happened. It almost sounded like a shriek, or a snarl, like a hungry animal. But the weird distortion in the image was much clearer. It looked like a wad of mucus, like someone had spit a loogie on the TV screen, and the more I strained to focus on the image, the more it almost seemed to be moving, like the image was bulging against something pushing against the back of it. The bulbous shape seemed to have tendrils almost, little feelers of snot that appeared to undulate just a bit as the screen’s colors shifted and flickered behind it. It was a hell of an optical illusion, until the tendrils lashed out and curled around my wrist. The little thing had pinprick white eyes that were staring at me as it pulled my flat palm against the screen, like it was trying to pull me in, but I couldn’t pass through the TV screen. Then, as more of its amorphous mass began to cling to my skin, I realized it was using me to pull itself out.
Cold fire was racing up my arm and driving needles into my brain. The thing was sending me feelings, images; it was trying to communicate, but the message was garbled and disjointed, probably because I was screaming and crying and trying to tear my hand away from the screen and the gelatinous sputum man that was engulfing my arm. I think I had some kind of a seizure, because my arms and legs went numb and everything went sideways. I collapsed to the floor and dragged the tv and laptop with me, the screen changing into a shattered cascade of rainbow colors before blinking out. Somewhere, between wakefulness and oblivion, I think I heard the gooey bastard scream, like a child when you take its candy away. I don’t know how long I laid there, conscious but still unconscious. My brain was rebooting, struggling to take the information that the monster had forced into my mind and make sense of it, and slowly I started to understand.
It was a higher dimensional being, existing outside our perception of reality, a dimensional parasite. It, and other things like it, eat parts of our reality. They extend feelers through the veil of our world and attach themselves to living things, devouring them. Devouring our memories, our bodies, our very existence, until it’s as if we never were. What we see, the floaters, it’s them, latched onto us and sucking away at our existence, like a parasitic wad of phlegm. When you walk into a room and forget what you were doing, that was them. Eventually, if we live long enough, they’ll eat everything we are and it will be like we never existed. My grandfather, the one that told me about the wrinkles in the eye, suddenly developed severe dementia and Alzheimer’s a few years ago. We put him in a home and, over the years, steadily visited less and less. Talked about him less and less. When we got the phone call from the home that he had passed, my dad acted like the caller was notifying him of a stranger’s death. He hung up the phone and we never talked about it, as if the man who had been his father and my grandfather had never existed. It should have bothered us more, but it didn’t. I hadn’t even thought about that until now, until that thing raped my mind.
The worst part? These parasites have no name, no race, and no language. They don’t have packs, they reproduce asexually. Everything I know, all of these revelations, exist because the parasite forced them into my mind. It wants me to understand what it and its kind do, to tell people what they’ll do to us, because it wants to taste our suffering. It knows there is nothing we can do. They’re already eating you, and you don’t even know it.
When I could finally move, after I pushed the broken TV and laptop off me and climbed to my feet. I realized I couldn’t really feel my hand. Where the thing had touched me, the meat had liquefied and fallen away. Flesh and muscle were gone; my wrist was exposed red bone and a few scraps of ligaments, without movement or sensation (thank God for that); where before it could only suckle at us mostly ineffective, being in direct contact with me for a few seconds had given it ample time to strip everything it could touch away. I fumbled for my iphone to call 911, when I realized that the image on the screen wasn’t purple or weird anymore.
I’m sorry. I think I let it loose.
Written by My Own Worst NPC