I don’t remember a damn thing after I passed out.
Sandra told me that headquarters sent out an immediate care unit that did their best to patch me up. Still, that wasn’t enough to do the trick. In the end, they injected me with some of headquarters’ good stuff, a rare, specialized healing contraption.
That shit basically restructures your body and fixes any and all injuries, well almost. The bad part? It renders you comatose and delirious. Looking back, though, I wouldn’t have minded a nightmare or two, but what happened was far, far worse.
That orb I touched fucked with my mind. Sandra told me what we fought that day was a manipulator, or an extension of it. Manipulators are rare. They are things still lingering in their own reality, but have the powers to push through and create proxy organism.
That cat-thing we fought was nothing but a puppet. And that damned orb was the tool it used to channel its powers.
When I touched it though, the stupid idiot I am, a connection was established, allowing this thing to plunge right into my mind.
While Sandra was busy running all sorts of scans on those cryptic writings, the rising number of incidents and the involvement of a manipulator of all things, I was plunged right into my own personal hell.
Like I said, I rarely dream and when it happens, you can bet it’s always the same old nightmares that haunt me.
While my body was healing, though, that manipulator sent out its feelers, probing and invading my mind.
Describing dreams is though. There’s no structure, no going from A to B, no transition. It’s more like skipping through a movie, or skipping through various, unrelated movies.
The first thing I remember was a little girl. She was sitting on the floor, crying, her back to me. As I approached her, she was mumbling to herself, repeating something.
“… did you…” was all I heard at first.
“Hey, what’s wrong?” I heard my dream-self ask as I got closer. I knew this little girl. It wasn’t how she looked or her voice, it was just a feeling.
The moment I reached out to touch her, she jerked around. Her body was a tethered, bloodied mess. There was no mouth, no face, just a gaping abyss that screamed at me.
“Why did you kill me?!”
I cringed back and found myself at the daycare I’d been two years ago. That little girl. It was the one that had been infested. When I realized it, her body burst apart and a mess of tendons spread out.
In a panicked state I rushed away, but was suddenly at a different place.
It was nothing but a barren wasteland. There was nothing there, yet I was walking.
How long I’d been walking or where I was going, I couldn’t tell. My mind was slow and drowsy. There was the distinct feeling that something was surrounding me, pushing against me, my entire being. It almost felt as if something was trying to invade my mind.
I heard sounds, then words, but not in any language I could hope to understand. It was nothing but gibberish. Yet, I felt it growing louder, angrier, and with each new word, which each new sound, it was stabbing into my mind, my sanity even.
I found myself in a building. The surrounding walls were shifting, melting and running into one another, but they were also solid. It was like dreams overlapping, fusing together and fizzling apart.
There was a predominate feeling that something was wrong. It wasn’t a realization, but a fundamental truth. Fear and panic washed over me.
I saw tentacles. They’d been there before, but also not. They were slithering through the building, going back and forth, being part of the walls and not. I saw a terrible haunting creature, one I’d seen before, but couldn’t put anywhere. Then I saw the face of a teenager, then the faces of other people. It was a cacophony of images, no memories, but I just couldn’t put them anywhere.
And suddenly I felt an urge, a desperate urge to do something. I rushed on, turning here and there, pushing past tentacles and faces, tearing at walls, trying to figure out what was driving me on. Then I remembered Julie, she was here, and I had to find her.
At this point, I heard a different voice, a strained, quiet voice that pushed everything else aside. I felt myself stop, felt my attention shifting as it reverberated through my mind.
“Dylan, none of this is real, you’re in a dream. Something’s trying to influence you to break into your mind. You’ve got to get out of there. You’ve got to wake up.”
I knew this voice. It was an important voice. Before I could remember what it was, however, it was gone again, pushed aside by something else, something alien.
I was back at the wasteland, yet something was different. The sky ahead was moving and then torn apart.
At first I saw nothing but darkness, but then a twisted, torn up world appeared. The ground was shifting, constantly moving. I saw upside down mountains that grew from the sky. Things were looming there, hidden by a thick, overwhelming darkness. For a moment something came forward, rose from the darkness, something so tremendous it defied any and all reason.
I cringed back and found myself at the riverside in my city.
The grass felt soft and gentle between my hands, the sun was warm on my skin. I felt myself relaxing, leaning back, staring at the beautiful blue sky above.
“You awake, sleepyhead?” Julie asked.
“I fell asleep?”
“Sure did,” she laughed and inched closer towards me.
I set up and looked over at her, at her long hair and the deep beautiful eyes and for a moment something stabbed at me. When I winced, Julie’s eyes grew wide.
“Hey, you okay?” she asked.
I nodded. For a moment my eyes turned from her to the city ahead. The river view was beautiful.
“So you finally ready to show me your place?”
“Wait, don’t you know-?” I started but broke up.
Something was strange, but my hazy mind couldn’t put things together. There was something wrong here, something about Julie’s face, her voice. For a moment a vision came up. I saw blood, a torn apart body, but it was gone before I could-
“You know, we’ve been together for so long, so why not? You know I love you,” Julie’s voice popped up again.
This wasn’t right. There was something wrong here. Her way of speaking was different, her voice was different, and as I stared at the city, I realized it was different too. I couldn’t see it, but I felt it.
“No,” I brought out and cringed back. “No! You’re not… not her!”
As I tried to push myself up, the grass had grown, gotten thicker longer, and was slithering around my body, keeping me in place.
The woman next to me distorted, twisted, changed, growing into a hellish version of herself.
“You did this! You let me die!” she bellowed as her body turned into a fleshy mess.
The city behind distorted as well. Pristine buildings were replaced by derelict ruins. The river that had been fresh and blue before was now thick with blood and gore. The sky was burning, filled with slithering tentacles of insane proportions.
I was stunned into silence, paralyzed, unable to move my body.
And suddenly, a booming voice filled my mind.
It didn’t speak, not a language I could understand, instead it filled my mind with emotions, with thoughts. This, this here, what I was seeing, it was the future, the future of our world.
The voice was pushed away, pushed aside, and so was the horrible, nightmarish version of my city.
Then it came back once more, and I felt it tearing through my mind, my soul.
And then it was over and everything around me vanished.
I lay in bed, panting and shaking. I pushed myself up, came to my feet and found myself in the middle of an apartment, our apartment. Someone was lying on the floor, someone I knew.
A moment later a named appeared in my mind. Sandra.
I rushed towards her.
“What’s going on? What’s happening?”
“You need to get into contact with headquarters, there’s a signature here, you need to tell them the location, you need to-“
“Please, I beg you, tell them where it is, tell them were we are! We need help! I beg you!”
And at that moment, something clicked. Sandra, that cold, hard bitch, that mentalist. That was her? Was that her voice? Was that how she talked?
“I beg you!”
And I realized it. This was wrong, this was all wrong. That’s not how she’d talk, not her. As I looked up, I saw the walls all around me. They were nothing like our apartment, nothing like it.
“This is wrong,” I brought out, screamed it as loud as I could.
With that, the illusion was broken. All of it melted away, the room, the floor, Sandra, all of it. In a moment my mind felt heavy before the weight that had stuck to it was pushed away further and further before it vanished.
I was in a meadow. Grass and trees were around me.
“Dylan,” I heard a voice and as I turned, I saw a distant figure.
This time my mind was clear, and this time I recognized her voice instantly.
“Julie, is that you?” I brought out as I took a step towards her.
“Dylan, thank you for trying,” she whispered, but her voice was clear and loud in my mind.
“Julie, what are you-?” I asked as I started into her direction.
“Don’t come. You can’t. Just stay there. I just wanted to tell you it’s not your fault. None of this.”
And I stood there, stunned, staring, wanting so desperately to get to her, but in that moment the vision vanished, replaced by the glassy view of a small, cramped room. Tears were streaming from my eyes and as I looked up, I saw someone standing over me.
“You did well. It’s gone now. Its influence has left you, the connection is gone. You’re not in danger anymore. You can rest now.”
With that, she turned away to leave the room. As the tears were still streaming hot from my eyes, I stared after her. I watched as she left the room and gently closed the door behind her.
The words ‘thank you’ were trapped in my dry throat and I wasn’t able to bring them out before she was gone.
I knew what she’d done, what she’d tried to do for me, and all I could do was weep. Because there’s one thing I realized now that I was awake.
It hadn’t been Julie’s voice that spoke to me, it hadn’t been hers. Because how could I recognize her voice, if I couldn’t even remember it anymore.
Fuck monsters and fuck all of this!