Forever Spring #Dark #Fiction #ShortStories
Sometimes, things are scary simply because they happen in the dark hours when the mind is weak, and they lose their potency as the sun takes back the sky. But events that are truly horrifying remain so because they happen in the reasonable light of day, when one has to believe or question her own sanity. When things move, and patterns shift in the dark, we can calm ourselves with a million believable explanations; an insect flew by; I wasn’t fully awake; it was a dream. Daylight terrors tolerate no such illusions.
It was during the early afternoon, on a Wednesday in April when I had my first of several encounters with something foreign. It was simply alien. It was like seeing cold or hearing sticky. It made absolutely no sense, and so, I stood dumbfounded.
If I was like you, untouched and hearing this story for the first time, I would think me a liar or at least seriously disturbed. However, there has never been any doubt in my mind that on that Wednesday in April (if only for that one last time), I was completely sane.
My husband Mark was working full time as an attendant in an art gallery, and I was working as a substitute school teacher. I’d spent the morning hoping for a call in to work, but now, I was certain to have the rest of the afternoon off. I remember, it was just after 1:00pm, and I was planning a long walk in the sunshine just as soon as I finished my household chores. I was unloading the few remaining clean dishes from the dishwasher and replacing them in the appropriate cupboards and drawers. I was on the last handful of spoons and butter knives when all at once, I saw, heard, smelled and felt that mind shattering something.
The silverware crashed to the floor and scattered. The metal spoons and knives skated across the tile floor with blurring speed to hide underneath the table and in corners by the oven and underneath the refrigerator.
The transition from being alone in the house to being surrounded was sudden and complete. My heartbeat and all my other bodily functions ceased. So without breathing or thinking, I was smelling and tasting a thing so vile that trying now to recreate the sensation, brings on a wave of intense nausea. I felt it on my skin in waves of something grotesque like worm infested sludge. I felt it in every pore. It was on my hands and in my mouth. Maybe, I could have squeezed it between my fingers. I gagged and seemed to swallow it.
For those seconds, I could see it. I had to see it. It was all I could see. It was a moving mass of colors, but not colors as I’d known them. It was the thought behind colors. I saw aching purples, sickened oranges and claustrophobic greens. I saw a red so malicious and a yellow so sadistic that, if I’d had any control, I would have run screaming out into the sunshine and fresh air. I wouldn’t have stopped, but for me, at that moment, and at the moments since when I have been visited, there was no outside; there was no sunshine, and there was absolutely no hope for any kind of escape. All of my senses were forced wide open and crammed with this presence. I perceived it without mask and with inhuman clarity. Everything else was gone. I was submersed in it.
The vision alone was enough to haunt me, but the sounds were debilitating. I didn’t so much hear them as feel them in my ears. The thing was manipulating my eardrum and the bones of my ear to control not only the level of sound, but my perception of it. I was being screamed at and whispered to in a liquid language so monstrous that my ability to understand it somehow proved I was evil too, but I couldn’t not understand it. There have never been messages more clear. My comprehension was complete, but I will never repeat what I heard. I don’t want to try.
My eyes were jammed with sights, my ears packed tight with sounds, and my skin was undulating with sickening, tiny tentacles and textures both slickly smooth and painfully abrasive. I was caught, stuck and drowning in it. I wanted to be afraid, and on some level, the level that it would allow, I was afraid, but the thing wanted other emotions from me, so it played me like a musical toy. It controlled my level of fear, and I did not go into shock. I did not pass out, because it wanted me alert. I was bombarded with such a subtle blast of negative moods that fear alone would have been a pleasure.
I was, in those captive moments, so pervasively tainted that I experienced the emotions of this thing as if they were my own. It got beyond my physical self, beyond even my nervous system and memory and pressed itself into the tiniest fibers of my soul. I didn’t feel its bitterness, I was bitter; I was angry; I was hateful, and cruel, and selfish; I was jealous and vindictive and homicidal; I was proud, self-centered, and violently ashamed.
The thing was laughing at me, and so, I laughed at myself. It was all over me, all through me. I was it, and it was me.
And then…it was gone. I was let go, and I fell to the floor like so much warm silverware. I cried for almost an hour knowing absolutely that it was coming back.
I understood that this thing would come on sunny days, at times when I was alone. It would take me, and play me, and leave me in a heap to face the rest of my life.
I dragged myself into the bedroom and got undressed. I examined myself for physical signs of the encounter even while I knew I would find nothing.
The experience began to fade quickly after that, and by the time my husband got home, I only felt a bit off, maybe a little sick. I didn’t say anything. There was nothing Mark could do. This thing was just for me, all mine.
I dreamt all that long night of clean rivers and sunshine, budding flowers and new grass. I dreamed of spring at its most glorious. I thought, “Maybe I’m okay,” and that has been my only true insanity since this all began. I tried to convince myself that I was safe. I told myself that even if something wicked had touched me, it had gone and left me unchanged.
It was Saturday morning, just three days later, when it happened again. Incredibly, the second time was more distorting than the first. I was in the back yard getting ready to pull some weeds from my garden, when suddenly, I was encapsulated and completely out of control.
When it was over, I got in the car and drove to the gallery where Mark was working. I dragged him away from a man he was talking to. Once we were alone in the car, and I could make my words sound less like screaming, I told him everything to the best of my ability, and to the best of his ability…Mark believed me. That almost helped. His reassuring words and his arms around me did help. But then, I got a wave of something humiliating and shameful and pulled away.
Since then, the visitations have continued. At first it was once or twice a week, and then as many as four. It became more and more difficult for me to focus on anything from my normal life. Mentally, I was weakening, but my body was growing stronger. My skin cleared up, and my hair grew thicker and slightly less gray. I lost most of what I used to call “my old lady belly” and somehow, without my even trying to, I gained muscle. I’m forty-three years old, and this is the best I’ve looked in almost twenty years.
The apparent benefits of the visits make me feel worse than I would feel if I’d been left with boils or scars. Bruises and scabs would show the world that what is happening is not my fault, that in no way did I bring this on myself. It would show that I definitely want to be free of the wickedness stalking me.
As it is now, each day I look into the mirror and see staring back a woman who is healed and healthy. I have to wonder. Maybe it is my fault. I think of suicide, but I’m afraid it won’t help. The thing would find me in my afterlife, and there, I would spend eternity without hope.
I have felt myself changing. I am more easily brought to anger. I have grown impatient, and I don’t enjoy the things that used to bring me simple pleasure. Much worse, I hear myself saying cruel and sarcastic things to Mark, things that hurt him. I say them without thinking, and sometimes I catch myself smiling at the wrong time. The thing is changing me, and I don’t know how to stop it.
I’ve come to believe that if there is a hope for me, I must hold onto as much of myself as I can until winter comes. It will be dark and cold then, and maybe this thing that hatched in the spring will die with all the other warm weather pests.
It always comes in the light, in the daytime, when I am alone, so if I keep busy and stay around people, maybe it won’t come back. I bought dark curtains for all the windows. I shower and eat in the dark, and I only go outside in daylight when Mark comes with me.
Mark is worried about me; everyone is worried about me, but I have a feeling that if that thing comes back again before winter, I’ll be lost.
My visitor has a plan. It wants me healthy and alone, so one day, it can take me for more than a few seconds. It will fill my pores and twist my emotions, whisper at me and scream at me until I can’t remember it ever not being there. It will show me the horrors and press against me, intoxicating me with its putrid smells, and forcing me to taste what I will become. It will paralyze me with hatred and drown me in disgust and shame. It will infest and grow inside me. Time will stop. It will be spring…