The sky had been dark for going on two full days. Not cloudy. Dark. During what should have been the day it was a kind of soft dark, the kind that you see when your eyes get a bit adjusted to the lack of light.
At night it was like being blind. No stars, no moon. On top of that: no power. The TV doesn't work, or the lights, or the phone, or the heat.
It was cold. Cold for July or January. I was all layers. Jackets, sweatpants, socks, thermal insulated anything I had and blankets. With the power out, I had to use the beeswax candles my mom left behind when she passed. The whole time I was afraid the flame would lick the wooly fuzz on the blankets and I'd go up like a match. Might be worth it. Finally get warm.
When the knock came I almost didn't notice it. Since the dark came the cabin had been creaking almost non-stop. Long, drawn out, wooden whines every minute. Between that and how my dog, Sandy, sulked around and whimpered I was almost ready to go out of my head. I went to the door, but hesitated. Who would be out in. . . whatever the hell this is? More than that, who would be out here in the middle of nowhere in whatever the hell this is?
“My car broke down yesterday.” The voice was a high and sweet alto, but still distinctly male. It was almost like the person on the other side was singing.
“I've been walking in this dark for I don't know how long. I'm so cold. Please, sir, can I come in?”
He didn't answer my question and if I opened the door any of the heat in the cabin would get out, but. . . I couldn't imagine being out there. Walking in the dark for so long. I opened the door just wide enough for him to slide through. My body spasmed as the freezing air hit me and went through all of my layers. I shut the door hard and raised the candle to get a look at my guest. He was short. Couldn't have been much more than four feet. His skin was white, like, albino white and his hair was so light it was almost transparent. Like me, he was wrapped in blankets. “Thank you. Thank you so much.”
“You must be hungry. There's not a lot I can get for you with the power out, but-”
“Just a place to sleep.” I led him over to the couch and set him up with a pillow, extra blankets and plenty of candles.
“Do you have any idea what's going on out there?” I asked him.
“I have a few,” he said. “How fortunate you have so many of these candles.”
“Um, they were my mom's. She passed on a few months back." I don't know why I kept talking. “She's buried in a little family cemetery in the woods. You were saying you know what's happening?”
“It will become clear soon enough. I'm sorry to be rude, but I am very tired.”
“Right. . . right. If you need anything, I'm just down the hall.” As I headed back to my bedroom, I bent down to pet my dog. He'd been sitting and watching our visitor since he arrived. “Come on, Sandy. Let him sleep.”
“It's fine.” The glow of one of the candles turned his face a sick yellow. “He looks like a good dog.” I went to bed. Before I fell asleep I realized that the stranger wasn't wearing shoes.
I had a dream that night. The world was still dark, but my house was lit up. Not by candles or electric light, it was just light. My mother's corpse, eyeless and withered, was propped up in a chair at the round table in the kitchen. She was whispering something. I couldn't hear it. Her lips didn't move, the sound just climbed up her throat and slipped over her teeth. I moved to her side, straining my ears, getting close. Like a rusty machine her head turned slowly to look at me. Her mouth fell open and out of it came the sounding of a trumpet so loud I couldn't hear it for even a second before my eardrums were destroyed and the dreamworld began to shake.
My ears were ringing when I woke up and I was sweating so bad I could've pissed myself and not known. I peeled myself off the sheets and went to the living room to check on my guest. My dog is medium-sized. Not a monster, but nothing small. Sandy's a good dog with sharp ears and a short coat. The stranger had lit about two dozen candles. In the unstill light I watched this tiny man with white skin lift my dog up, one hand, much longer than I remember, hoisted him up by his front paws, the other held his muzzle closed. He dug his bottom teeth into the Sandy's skin and scraped them up along the spine.
They cut through Sandy's flesh like razors through ribbon. The fur and skin and muscle came off in a sheet, bunched up against his face. When he reached the neck, he dropped my dog and began to chew, slurping up the stretch that didn't fit in his mouth. I could see my Sandy's spine. He was still alive, trying to limp away. My guest didn't swallow the meat, he just chewed it up and let it fall to the ground with wet slaps.
“Did your dream explain anything to you?”
I was at his side, my eyes locked on the exposed insides of my poor dog. It was a few moments before I looked over at him. The blankets pushed back so they fell down the stranger's sides. His chest was blank, nothing on it except white flesh. He stood and reached down to grab Sandy's spine.
When he lifted the dog turned into a parabola with slack ends that reminded me of a marionette. As if he could read my thoughts, the stranger jiggled my dog up and down by its backbone. His paws glanced off the floor in all directions in a mockery of walking. All the while, Sandy just made a high, continuous whine and looked at me from the corner of his wet eyes.
“He who is I AM has called for the seven-eyed lamb and the Lion of Judah,” he told me. My dog dropped to the ground, legs splayed outward, nails scrabbled against the wood floors trying to get up. The door blew open. Whatever was out in the dark made me double over and vomit in painful, choking strands. My stomach cramped. All I could taste was bile, it was even in my sinuses. His blankets fell to the side. The lower half was as blank as the top. In two giant steps the stranger went out the door. I followed, leaving a trail of blood and stomach acid.
He glowed a serene white. That was the only way I could see in this sleep black night. I followed him into the forest, along a tight dirt path. Every breath was a struggle, but what did it matter? As he moved he got taller. Five feet. Six feet. Eight feet. Ten. Dead birds fell to the ground like rain.
His arms stretched and seams ran up their length. Feathers, beautiful white feathers sprouted. His wings were raised. Past the cemetery where the dead were awake. My mother was there looking fresh compared to the ones who had died a hundred years ago. They were disjointed skeletons. Dirty jawless skulls perched atop rib cages balanced on incomplete legs that moved like my mangled dog's. I got in line behind them.
There were more of them in a clearing. They flew in complex synchronized circles, changing levels on a whim, creating dizzying spirals and wheels within wheels. I looked up to the sky, it was bright with falling stars. Thousands of them. The stars have no more right to the Heavens, no more than the birds. The Heavens belong to them now.. The Heavens and the Earth and the Waters.
“Yes. We were the first of His flesh. His love for you has run out. We the faithful Host inherit your domain,” said the stranger before he took flight.
As they circled in the air, their flight path seemed to carve a pit below them. More corpses were coming in from the woods. I watched as all of them, including my mother, began to throw themselves into the hole. The dead scream with louder voices than they had in life. They scream from the pain of second death, the death of the soul.
I think it started to rain blood or maybe my nose started to bleed and my eardrums just burst from the sounding of the trumpet, but I hardly noticed. Warm hands were on my shoulders and they lifted me up. Up, up, to the top of the revolving tower of white wings and pale flesh. I heard them laughing. It was so sweet. I felt my heart swell and my brain flood with ecstasy. I was babbling, I think. I felt my mouth moving. That laughter, like honey, like flutes, like the sound of your mother's beating heart heard from inside the womb, like the only choir fit for He Who Is.
It was all I heard as I fell.
Written by ImGonnaBeThatGuy