Shapes in a Beautiful Golden Darkness

It came to us as a dream, but it was a nightmare. One we couldn’t resist.

Appearing in orbit first in a spaceship that dwarfed anything humanity had seen.

Our astronauts that were sent up reported advanced technology, mysterious shapes resembling art and then.. then all we heard was their ecstatic mumbles, then speeches of lyrical potency that we’d never heard before. Poems so achingly beautiful that you’d begin to cry at the first sentence. One of them sang a song that crippled most of our science team for hours. We were huddled in fetal positions, laughing, crying, loving, orgasming in how incredible it was.

Then we heard the screams, but we were so far into our own infatuation that we didn’t pay it any mind. When we came to several hours later on the second day, we got up and assessed the status of the astronauts. Readouts confirmed they were all dead.

We wanted to suppress it. Steeling ourselves, we all fought the almost pathological need to share the beauty that we’d heard. When the pictures of the mind-numbingly beautiful golden and black interior came back, we all felt compelled to go up there. But we recognized it for what it was, death in disguise. Almost all of us made it, until one couldn’t take it and repeated to himself the phrases that were all reverberating in our souls in front of the inquisitive media.

The governments all went rabid. They had to send more people and in the process, several fights broke out in orbit. After some deliberation, they all sensibly (foolishly) agreed they would enter in order of arrival.

Of course, all of us were debriefed and put on sick leave, which was ironic because there wasn’t anything wrong with any of us. If anything, the problem was that there was something right with us, something too right, too harmonious, too…

Too perfect.

* * * * *

It’s been two weeks since I wrote the above sentence. It sparked a remembrance of how things were and caused me to go into some sort of feedback loop where… I can’t speak of it. It’s too much, I’m sorry.

But yes. They all went in, and they sent back hundreds, thousands of pictures of what we think was art, paintings maybe, murals? Where do you draw the line between anything? There were poems, there was texts, stories, songs, entire rooms created just to take your breath away.

I heard descriptions of a room that was mostly dark except for the stars shining through big windows. In the center of the room was an intricate crystal that was apparently so beautiful that most people who passed by the room went inside and just ended up sitting there in silence until they died. They didn’t want anything else than to keep experiencing that beauty until they no longer could.

It’s very difficult to write about the specifics of any of this, because the moment I start recollecting my own memories and how it felt and how I felt and how I was, I start becoming like that too.

I’ve always had a terrible memory for details and fortunately, now, that’s helping me out for once.

* * * * *

It’s been six months now since the arrival of the ship. All governments have agreed to jam all of the signals coming from it and instituted blockades. I’m attached to a project where we’re using a selective kind of cocktail of drugs and neural modifiers to render a person “blank” which is to say that they will respond and follow orders, but at the same time, they won’t feel or associate or think creatively. I don’t understand the actual medical science behind it, but as I was one of the first team members to experience the phenomenon, I’m acting as a consultant.

I feel like I’m betraying something bigger than humanity, bigger than god, bigger than consciousness while trying to eradicate this from the world. But we must do something because our society is falling apart because of this. It doesn’t matter what we do towards the ship, it seems like it’s here to stay. Firing our biggest, most destructive weapons at it did nothing. Pleading with it didn’t work. It just fucking SITS there in orbit. WHY? WHY?!

* * * * *

I’m crying as I’m trying to type this. I feel such… I don’t know what I’m feeling. Sadness? Rejection? Happiness? Relief? Hatred? I have this big thing in my mind and I can’t get it out. But I’m crying.

It’s over. The ship was there one moment and gone the next. At first, we thought it had somehow become invisible because of how instantaneous it was. But no, it did leave something behind.

We sent our blanks up into orbit to retrieve all the bodies. All in all, we lost close to 600 people to that ship. No, not the ship itself really, I can’t tell you because I’ve trained myself not to go into those lines of thought that trigger another episode.

We burnt the bodies and sealed away all the items they had on them. Maybe one day humanity will be able to deal with something like this again.

But for now, we’ll all choose to forget.

The box has been opened though.

They want to turn all of us into blanks now.

A Kitchen

23:17 on a Monday evening.

In an apartment somewhere, there are four people. We’ll observe them in a specific order.


Amelie has turned 18 three weeks ago. She’s sitting in the living room and she’s worried out of her mind that her boyfriend Giuseppe is going to leave her after this night. She’s sitting on a sofa and she’s only marginally aware of another person named Ericha whose sitting a few meters next to her, drawing with her crayons. Amelie is also fantasizing about having Giuseppe fuck her in various ways while her mother is away. She wants to be fucked first on the table in the kitchen, because she thinks it sounds dirty. She wants him to fuck her from behind and treat her like a total slut as she imagines herself to be. (Amelie hasn’t be exposed to much in the way of sexual education or erotica.)

As she hears the mildy annoying rasping of Erichas crayons on the paper, she feels a pleasant warmth between her legs that she knows she’s going to take care of before bed. She already has plans of running away because she hates her mother so much. Her mother just wants to keep her locked up all the time. LOCKED UP, like a damn slave! Like she isn’t 18! She can do what she wants now!

Amelie has no idea how to live on her own though, because her mother has sheltered her from real life. But she still harbors these thoughts none the less.


Is Amelie’s mother, she is sitting on an uncomfortable wooden chair in the kitchen and she’s talking with Amelie’s boyfriend. She’s currently very angry and as her conversation with the young man continues, she is contemplating just throwing him out or calling the cops or maybe both. She’s very old and after her husband died, she was immensely relieved that she didn’t have to have sex with anyone ever again.

Soba is an asexual, not that she’s consciously aware of it.. This means that all of her life, she has forced herself to endure sex in the hopes that she would “get it” someday like the others. The reason that Soba is an asexual is rooted in a chemical dysfunction in her brain that makes certain parts not respond when others parts of her body are stimulated. Medicine will find a way to cure her particular condition in a year or two, but at that time it will be too late for her. This is what most people would consider a tragedy.

Part of the reason she is also angry at the young man sitting opposite of her is because he reminds her of her late husband and is thereby triggering feelings of guilt and shame in her. That guilt is then transmuted into the religious zealotry that she has been practicing for the last decade and a half. She is currently not aware of Ericha. She’s vaguely aware of her daughter, but most of her attention is focused on the young man in front of her.


Is a 21 year old male whose found himself in quite an embarrassing discussion according to his own opinion. He’s currently talking to the mother of Amelie in a kitchen that’s a bit too brightly lit by a naked lightbulb. He’d rather be anywhere but here right now, because he’s scared of the old woman and her religious fervor. He’s trying to explain to her that he’s deeply in love with her daughter and that he envisions a future with her, but it isn’t working. He’s also attempted to explain to her that he’s got a job down at the warehouse packing crates and that he’s going to go places soon. He’s afraid that she isn’t going to let him see her daughter anymore.

He’s also sort of daydreaming about Amelie and how their future could be. In his daydreams, they are talking while taking a walk on the country side and enjoying life in the sun. Her warm smile, her beautiful hair, her body underneath her clothes that would respond to his touch.

He tries to keep his composure and not drift away while simultaneously being afraid of her. Through the drapes leading to the living room he sees Amelie look at him from time to time, but mostly she keeps her eyes downcast. He is not aware of Ericha.


Is a girl whose 16 years old and considered mentally underdeveloped and likes to play with crayons when she’s visiting Amelie. She lives downstairs with her old father. She also doesn’t know it, but she has a sister coming as well soon who will have the same altered mental state as she has.

As she draws increasingly abstract geometric symbols on the paper, she’s aware of everyone in the apartment and she’s thinking intently about all of them. Her hands seemingly move by themselves as the crayons leave traces on the paper in front of her.

She wants to take out the big kitchen knife she knows is usually kept in a drawer in the kitchen and stab Soba in the eyes, she never liked how she looked at her. She then wants to eat the eyes for herself. Then she wants to skin the body and hide the skin because then she thinks that nobody will be able to find the body after that.

After that, she wants to take Giuseppe and slit his throat and watch him try and speak as blood flows out of his neck. She wants to stick her fingers into the hole and feel the insides of his throat as he dies. Then she wants to cut off his cock and stuff it in the hole so he’s “doing it” to himself.

Finally, she wants to stab Amelie as many times as she can before she dies. She fantasizes about it never ending, so she can stab her forever and see the blood splatter everywhere and hear her scream. She doesn’t really like the idea of screaming, but someone told her that it’d be fun if there was lots of blood coming out at the same time. She imagines seeing herself from the third person view from behind as she’s leaned over her and stabbing, stabbing, stabbing, stabbing over and over and over.

Ericha has been imagining this for weeks now, she has also imagined other things, but primarily her thoughts have been focused on this over and over, like a song on repeat.


??? is an invisible entity hovering slightly behind Ericha. It is aware of everyone in the apartment.

It wants blood. It hears their heartbeats.

Tucked away under Ericha’s cushion in the sofa is the big kitchen knife from the kitchen.

Unknown Caller

I thought the first voice message was a wrong number when I heard it. Some young-sounding woman said she was going to meet “me” at the pub in three hours. Then a few hours later, a more angry voice message from her saying that “I” stood her up, but that “I” probably was attending some medical emergency. The thing that made me concerned was that my phone hadn’t registered any missed calls, nor had I gotten any SMS notifications from my telco either. Weird.

And really, me responding to a medical emergency? As if! I had a shitty job working at a warehouse where OSHA was a laughing stock “because of their sissy rules” and where pay was an even bigger joke. But I made do, it wasn’t a bad life considering how hard I’d had to fight to get there. Dad hadn’t always been able to make ends meet after mom walked out on him when I was six. Not that I remember mom that much, but still. I’d always harbor hate for her for doing that. He’d never been alright after that. The few times we’d been out and had a few too many, he’d sometimes confess that he still loved her. I remember asking him angrily how he could love someone that would just walk out on her family, his response was that I’d understand once I fell in love myself one day. He quit drinking after that one.

Yeah right, as if that’d ever happen when I was basically living paycheck to paycheck and never had the time to do anything but work and sleep most of the day. Sometimes I’d have a free weekend where I’d meet up with either dad or some friends at the pub. I just didn’t have the time for something as complicated as a relationship.

The phone buzzed and I picked it up, ah, missed call from dad. Shit, that’s what I get for spazzing out. I called him back and he wanted me to help him out with his new smart TV. I sighed theatrically and asked him if he’d tried the manual. After a few minutes of him complaining, I told him I’d be over after work the day after and that he’d better have some of his famous Coq Au Vin ready to make up for it. My heart warmed as I could hear him agree to it with a smile in his voice. We hung up and I realized that it was almost time for bed. Man, what a day!

When I woke up the next day, as I was going through my morning rituals, the weird messages from the other day had begun to fade in my mind. On a whim I called up my voice mail only to hear another one from the young woman, now thanking “me” for the thoughtful gift and that she was SO ON for going on a trip with “me”.

Enough was enough, I wasn’t about to hear about some romance crap like this, I phoned my telecom provider and talked to their support for a while. They promised to investigate the issue and get back to me with an update at a later time. Yeah whatever. As I hung up I considered that I was paying really well for my plan and that maybe just switching to a new number at a different telco would fix it. Ugh, what a pain in the ass that would be. Meh, I resolved to check prices later when I got home after visiting dad.

The rest of the day was mostly a blur, a big shipment of fresh groceries had come in and we were working our asses off packaging them and putting them on pallets while truck after truck came in to haul them off. By the time the bell rang for our shift, my arms were feeling like playdough. I headed out to my car and hauled up my phone to see a missed call from dad. Oh fucking great. .. I’d forgotten all about that. What a damn pain to go there when all I wanted to do is go home and just pass out. As I heard dad on the voice mail reminding me that we had a dinner planned, I briefly considered giving him a call with the excuse that I wasn’t feeling too well.

But all those thoughts evaporated like smoke when the automated voice said “one more message received on ” and then read a timestamp of a few hours earlier. It was the young woman again… gushing about how she had all these plans for the trip, asking a million questions about what “I’d” want or what we should do. I hung up when she lowered her voice suggesting more intimate stuff.

I was in a sour mood when I arrived at Dad’s. Hearing about someones perfect life really wasn’t my idea of fun. Not being able to even block this perpetual wrong number was even more aggravating. When he saw me standing there in the doorway, tired and miserable, he just laughed and gave me a hug, and asked me if I’d had a tough day. I nodded and while we were figuring out the TV, I shared the weird story with him about the mysterious woman calling me.

During dinner, he made up this elaborate fantasy about her being a ghost woman who was mistakenly haunting the wrong guy, forever bound to call me about things that had happened in the past. I shook my head and gave him a sharp look and told him that was oddly specific. Dad blushed and tried to play it off as a joke, but I could tell he was somewhat bothered by it.

After I’d stuffed myself with both chicken and red wine, I told dad that I was about to pass out. Since we’d already fixed the TV (of course it was easy once you read the manual!), he offered to drive me home since I’d had a bit too much wine. I graciously accepted and thought about how good it was that dad never really was too interested in alcohol that way. Having some of it in food, sure? But if he had wine or beer or anything, he made sure it was always alcohol-free.

When he dropped me off and handed me the car keys to my own car, I thanked him again and offered him cab fare home, as always he declined saying that if he ever stopped taking the subway “I’d become a stuck-up rich person like my successful son!” We shared a laugh and I made him promise to call me when he was home again. About an hour or so later, he called me and we wished each other a good night. I passed out immediately after that on the sofa and woke up to the alarm a few hours later, hating the fact that mornings… were in fact mornings.

The day after was calmer and in the lull in the afternoon, I got a call from the teleco support guy who told me that they hadn’t been able to find anything wrong with my voice mail. When I asked him if he could at least give me the number of the person that had called me, he said that the only recent calls had come in from one specific number, which turned out to be dads.

After we hung up, I sat down on a nearby stack of pallets in a state of disbelief. Was this some kind of joke? No, there’s no way anyone would construct something that elaborate just to mess with me right? The telco couldn’t be in on it too, that’d be paranoid. I called up the voice mail and pushed the buttons to start reading up past messages and the only messages present were those from my dad and my friends. As I hung up again, I broke out into a cold sweat. This… this couldn’t be happening could it? It had to be some kind of prank .. or hack .. or something!

I gritted my teeth and looked down at my aging smartphone, yeah, someone had probably gotten into this thing and installed some kinda prank software, it had to be. Well, the jokes were gonna be on them, because I knew a guy that specialized in fixing phones. I resolved to take it to him as soon as I could.

On Friday I went over to my old buddy Pike, who heard my story and laughed at my dad’s theory of the whole thing. He nodded when I described the call with support, their inability to find any data, my own inability to find any previously saved messages. So while I played some half-decent FPS game on his console, he got to work and checked out the phone’s software. A few rounds later of me constantly dying over and over and he came into the living room and shook his head.

He couldn’t find anything wrong with the phone, nothing at all. He’d even pulled the internal hardware cache logs that showed the interactions between the phone and the telecom equipment and nothing was out of the ordinary there. At this point, I could tell he was hooked as he practically begged me to let him borrow the phone for a day or two while he’d give me one of his other smartphones to borrow in the meantime. I shrugged my shoulders and told him that as long as I didn’t have to fiddle around with that hideously small SIM card, it was all good.

A few hours later, I was home when the phone rang. It was dad again, wanting to know if I was free the following weekend. I told him as usual that I had nothing planned, but that I couldn’t really guarantee anything because of work. Dad chuckled and cracked a joke that I didn’t have to pretend to be single anymore, because of my “new” girlfriend. I told him to get bent with a laugh and then we hung up.

But that had reminded me either way, I decided to call the voice line again in a fit of curiosity and sure enough, there was a saved voice mail from a few hours ago. Damn, changing phones hadn’t helped, so whatever this prank was, it must be someone from the telco that was in on it! All of my thoughts about digging into it stopped though when the woman started describing that she was lost, where was “I”? Why hadn’t “I” met her at the prearranged place? I could hear her walking around outside as she complained that it was getting dark and that being in a forest by herself really wasn’t her idea of fun. Then the call cut out mid-sentence and I realized that she’d reached the maximum length of the voice message. The automated voice stated that there was another message saved, this one from a minute ago, which meant that it’d come in while I’d been listening to her previous voice mail. I pressed the key to listen, with fingers that felt cold.

Her voice crying now, begging, pleading, saying she wanted me there, that she needed me there. That I was cruel to put her through this and then a sharp banging sound as the call cut out again.

My hands now felt like ice as I put down the phone on the table and stared at it. What the hell was this? What kind of a sick person would play this kind of prank on someone?

Then the phone rang unexpectedly, the display read “unknown caller”. With hands that were shaking, I pushed the answer button and said “Hello?” with a voice that I barely kept steady.

There was the sound of the outside, with some animals in the background, and then the sharp slamming sound of a door closing. I heard footsteps on wood and the creaking of a chair as the caller sat down.

“Oh my beloved son, I had to do it for your sake. She really wasn’t worthy of you at all.”

The voice was old and wizened, but I somehow managed to reply to it, “Who.. who is this?”

The reply came with a happy tone of voice “Oh dear, don’t you recognize the voice of your mother? I know it’s been a while since we saw each other, but I promise you, we’ll reunite soon enough. Just don’t invite your dad to the party.” and then a sharp click as the line went dead.

I looked at the phone in terror, what’d happened here? I almost dropped the phone when it buzzed in my hand, the screen lit up with an SMS from an unknown number.

As I opened it, my stomach churned when I saw the numbers in front of me.


Meditech #3

The sun outside the window is a blinding white, so much brighter than anything I’ve ever seen. The buildings are a stark bright white, the only sense of scale and depth that I have is from the shadows which are sharp as a razor. I realize that this window exists in a room, it’s a kitchen.

A clothed middle-aged woman is on her back on the kitchen table. A nondescript man talks into a recorder as he pushes open her mouth, shining a light inside of it. She is continually producing gagging noises. “Menopausal structures present, no fluid build-up noted. Artificial joining seems. . .” and here he pauses for a bit before he continues, “Wait, we have confirmed breach on the alpha and zeta welds. No ganglia are visible. Some swelling on the upper parts. I will administer a light massage to attempt to induce emissions.” The man said with a dispassionate tone of voice.

I can’t do anything, I would shudder if I could. What I hear is some strange, wet, and crackling noises as he unexpectedly turned her whole mouth inside out, somehow making it easier to get to the back of her throat. My field of view zooms in, following a thin strand of gleaming metal that shows more and more of something that has red stripes as it trails up the throat structure of the woman.

Eventually, I see something metallic slightly protruding from the back of her throat as the doctor places his thumbs against it. But, first, he turns her grotesquely deformed head to the side so he can look into her right eye, which is now watering and rolling around in a panic. He attempts a smile that strikes me as very forced. Then he speaks to her. “Don’t worry Mrs. Bimolá, this is all quite safe. I will administer a drug to make you forget this afterward. This is for the good of the state, do you understand? Blink once for yes, two for no.”

The woman blinks twice at him, shaking like a leaf. It becomes horrifically apparent to me that she’s being forcibly paralyzed. My field of view zooms out slightly so I can see that one of her feet is bare and that it has a small thin tube coming out of something attached to the back of it. I want to scream, to struggle, to do anything, but I’m forced to be a muted observer.

“It is too bad, that you do not understand then. It still must be done. Please do not resist. It will only prolong the procedure,” he said with an odd sense of finality to it.

And here my gaze zooms in again as he started massaging the metallic piece in her throat with both of his thumbs. Her gagging turned into gargling noises and several times, the man reaches over to pick up a small tube which he sticks down her throat, siphoning out drool. After a while, he stops, sighs, and again in some weird grotesque way he turns her face right again, the noises are as sickening and revolting as before. She lets out a faint monotone moan that is almost like an eternal exhalation since this procedure seems to go on forever.

A long time passes as he watches her face intently, checking his watch. Then he shakes his head and picks up what looks like a stapler. He quickly puts it to her head and I can hear a sharp click. To my horror, I see that her gaze instantly goes still as he slowly lowers her head against the table. A drop of blood runs down the right side of her temple where he previously placed the device. I can faintly see something has been pushed in there, instantly killing her. As his breathing gets lighter, he takes off his surgical gloves and touches a device on the table, and then speaks. “Upon administering treatment, the structure came even more undone. This necessitated the cancellation of the subject. I’m afraid this is yet another botched attempt. Please inform insertion techs that method 41 is to be discouraged as it has universally resulted in rejection in all implantation hosts. That is all.

ASA 3 Meditech signing off.”

And here I wake up, stifling a scream. No kitchen, no woman, no man, no strange and creepy neon-white dystopian city outside. Just the darkness of my apartment. It takes me a very long time before I can get up from my bed. What I want to do is to go into the shower and let the warm water rinse off this horrible nightmare. But I set my course for my office instead, I sit down and I type this all out. While some of my dreams make for great horror and fantasy worlds, this one didn’t make me feel anything but pure hatred and disgust. So I sit here, wanting to kill a man that doesn’t exist for a crime that never happened. What was that world? Who was this poor woman? Who was this man? Why did he do the things that he did? Was she even human? Was he? Either of them?

The kicker is that I can find out about all of those things, I just have to turn my mind’s eye back to that terrible world. I push the save button in my word editor and sigh deeply. I need a damn shower first.

One Step To The Left

I was in school when it happened.

Some called it the change, others the fusing. Others described it as a wave, an old man called it judgment day.

For me, it was school one second, then it was horror. The whiteboard suddenly had eyes. A mouth. Tendrils, curious as to what they might find, were stretching out from it. I saw a sack of squirming flesh hanging from its bottom. I think it was the teacher’s body, or what used to be it. Then I started hearing everyone else around me. And I looked around.

My classmates were no more. Some had become puddles of goo, others had fused with their desks. I felt something caress my neck. I got out of my desk, I was unchanged. The significance of that would become apparent to me later. I looked behind me, I saw a big mouth with tentacles, that desk could now move. It had been my closest friend. I forgot his name that day. Mental trauma they say. Lots of that to go around these days.

The rest of what happened is a disjointed series of images. I was running, stumbling, puking, yelling I think. I don’t want to remember, but I’m trying to write this down in case we ever make sense of this world again. So that others will remember our history.

Living in this world is very hard. Everything is out to get you. I met a scientist who told me that we’re what he called anomalies, or as everyone else said “outliers”. All over the world, a small percentage of the human race didn’t change. So some of us woke up in beds next to abominations (some of those people were eaten shortly after though, by the other half of the bed), others were playing with kids that suddenly were part of the swing set or the monkey bars. Others were at the office, suddenly surrounded by sentient cubicles. Imagine any job and I will tell you a horror story about it. I have a lot of them, I’m a collector of those.

None of us have any idea of what happened, there are so many theories. Particle accelerator, radiation exposure, dimensional tear, invasion from space, or simply divine judgment from either of the deities humanity worshipped before this. A super-intelligent environmental virus or a bacteria. It doesn’t matter though. The world won’t be any saner if we were to figure this out anyway.

Scientist guy had been talking with a doctor too, that had (after she’d regained her sanity) examined some of these new beings. She had told him that whatever had happened, had in most cases radically restructured everyone and everything into new, self-sustaining entities. So I suppose that if my classmates found food, some of them might still be alive even today. If you can call that living.

I don’t remember where my school used to be, I don’t remember where I used to live either. I just know it’s around here somewhere because sometimes I recognize things from my past. But I don’t visit schools anymore, they’re the worst, just like any other place where people used to gather. Malls are galleries of horrors now. Roads are clogged with monstrosities.

I once saw a bus come down the road. Or crawl I suppose. It still had its wheels, but it was supporting itself on tentacles as thick as a tree. It had apparently been full when everything changed. The inside was jam-packed with flesh, some windows were broken, sporting both tentacles, tendrils, and slightly human-looking limbs, mouths, ears, eyes. It was hunting, so I quickly dove out of sight. It found something to chew on that squealed as I heard its bones break. I heard satisfied grunts from the bus as it sated itself.

There are entire buildings that have become sentient now. They can’t move, but they do act like the old roach motels used to. “They check-in, but they never check out again!” I think that’s how the commercial went anyway. All the animals seem to be OK though, none of them seemed to be affected. That in itself was small mercy I suppose since they’re now what keeps us outliers alive. Before we could hunt though, we used to go to the supermarket to get canned food. I still have nightmares about those times. We lost so many people to the supermarts.

I remember the name of an old man, Jake. He used to be in the military, tough as nails. Knew all the tactics. He was good at shooting things. He died when a shopping cart thing ambushed him from behind. It was crying all the time, it had probably once been a small child. I ran out of there and heard it babble and eat him. He yelled for mercy, then all I could hear was a gurgling sound, probably when it tore up his throat. Then after a while, I heard it crying again, just like a kid would.

And that’s the worst part about these things, you see, whatever they did at the time everything changed is what they repeat now, like parrots.

I once walked past an open manhole and heard a voice coming from down there, it was asking me to hand it a no 2 wrench. It sounded perfectly sane as if there really were a construction guy down there who’d heard me and asked me, a passing stranger, to help him in his job. I didn’t though. Because I knew there was nobody down there. Just some monstrosity wanting to eat me.

Another time, I ventured into a stock exchange floor and heard lots of voices repeating long-forgotten statistics. I was forced to sneak into a hospital once when a friend fell ill with a fever. It was a labyrinth of horrors, but I got the medicines. Later on, I only went into pharmacies instead. I was stupid to take the risk, but I was curious.

The worst part is what I call the mimics who are people who had a less drastic change. They can surprise you and then you’re dead. Never trust what you see or hear. If anything seems off, you run and you don’t stop running until you find a safe place to hole up in for the night.

I once saw an old woman sitting on a bench, as I got closer, I caught her attention. She looked up at me and then she started shaking, I quickly ran backward and “her” whole chest exploded outwards in a writhing mass of mouths and tentacles. Once I got out of its range, it settled down, and then it collected itself again into the familiar shape of the old woman I’d seen minutes ago. I stared at “her” for a good five minutes before realizing there was just nothing there that was human anymore. That’s the world we live in now.

We’re a small group of people. I rarely remember names, because people come and go all the time. They die a lot too. Making friendships only means pain in the end. Love is the same. One girl once came across a couple making love in a park, or what used to be a couple. She’d been an art student before everything changed. She said it looked like Van Gogh had tried to reinterpret the classic missionary position and sprinkled it with vaginas penises and lots of breasts. It was moaning with two voices. Parts were thrusting into other parts, it was drooling out of others. It sensed her and got excited and it started shivering and squirting liquids into the air. She told me that her first impulse was to laugh because it was all so absurd. Then it started opening maws of razor-sharp teeth and she ran of course.

Like I said before, you don’t want to be in places where people used to congregate. Because those places usually mean that something will hunt you and possibly kill you. There are a lot of hungry things out there. I’m sorry for rambling, but there are so many things I need to write, to get out of myself. I think writing helps me cope with all of this. So many memories I wish to forget.

We sometimes sit in front of the fire and talk about our past. I mostly listen. Then we always end up with the theories. That’s when I usually doze off. I haven’t told the others about my theory though.

I think that this wasn’t random at all, or some kind of judgment. No, the more I hear and see, the more I become convinced that these entities weren’t haphazardly constructed, they seem as if they were designed.

So that leads me to the core of my theory… which is this:

I think God woke up one day, and he was terribly bored.

For the Righteous Wrath of Heaven

“What do you mean you don’t want to do this?” The man asked as his shirt was being torn off his back by a muscular succubus, grinning with her tusked maw. His body was suspended in an X hanging above a pit of lava. The temperature of said pit was hot enough to almost boil his skin, but it didn’t quite get there. It took real effort to get lava into a state like that, but such was hell.

The succubus grunted appreciatively as she slapped his naked ass. “Prime meat on this one,” she said, assessing him from top to bottom.

Lucifer sighed deeply and massaged his eyelids for a bit. “I really don’t want to do this to you, you haven’t really done anything wrong the way I see it, but the reality is that I’m not really in charge here. No.. not really in charge at all.”

The hot pokers sizzled as they melted and evaporated the man’s skin where they touched it. He screamed in horrible agony, Lucifer felt sick to his soul. After a while, he made a motion and the man was healed again to full health.

“W-why are you doing this to me? I always did what He asked me. I always turned the other cheek. I lived a pious life. I followed the scripture. Why?” The man asked with a voice that trembled with indignant fear and anger.

Lucifer sighed again and cleared his throat. “Because if we don’t, we’ll be punished even harder than you. Heaven’s will is that sinners will be punished, hell exists because our creator literally wills it and I was sent down here because I disagreed with that. Your sin? Does it really matter to you that much to know what it was?”

The man nodded, his face a bit more resolute now that his body was starting to forget the pain it had been inflicted moments ago. “Tell me,” he croaked with a broken tone of voice.

Lucifer gave him a wry smile and counted off his fingers in a matter-of-fact tone, “when you were in your teens, you often masturbated and wasted your seed. You often worked on Sundays, you didn’t kick out your son and ostracize him when he came out as gay, you enjoyed shellfish a lot, you took the lord’s name in vain several times, you once lusted after your neighbour’s wife in her bikini.”

The man stared at Lucifer in shock who nodded back at him and smiled, “oh yes we know exactly which one, that little sexy number that had her nice puffy nipples poking through…” here, Lucifer’s arms went wide, as if it to encompass it all, “there’s a whole laundry list of things you did wrong according to heaven. This is why you’re here.”

The man just stared at him. “But… I asked forgiveness and was given that just before I died.”

Lucifer smirked. “No, you didn’t ask it from a priest, the person that gave you the forgiveness at the side of the road after your tragic accident was not an ordained priest by god. It didn’t count.”

But that’s madness! No merciful God would ever do that!” The man blurted out.

Lucifer nodded and got up again and straightened out his pants and brushed off some sulfur from his knee. “That’s the sick reality of this situation. God forces us to do these things because God isn’t merciful. God is pure wrath. He created hell and he sent us sinners here because we don’t agree with his ways. Here we must punish what God considers the wicked and we must do so without pause or mercy because This… really is hell.”

There was a gravid pause after this, only the bubbling of the lava and the impatient shifting of the succubus could be heard as the man just shook his head in silence.

Lucifer looked up towards the ceiling and spoke again. “God, if you are still listening, please… end this, all of this, you don’t have to have these rules, you don’t have to be wrathful, you don’t have to punish those that want a different life. Please, once you used to understand these things before you made your scripture. Do you truly have no compassion for us beings that are different from yourself?”

Some time passed, the burning hot pokers again penetrated through the man’s torso, causing him to scream out in deep agony. Lucifer flinched, he hated this, he never wanted this at all “GOD, I AM ASKING YOU TO PLEASE STOP THIS, THIS IS NOT HOW IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE! THIS IS NOT A PERFECT HEAVEN, PLEASE, FOR THE MERCY OF CREATION, STOP THIS NOW!”

The succubus grinned as she helped the man to his feet and started to caress his naked backside that was once again healed. Her fingers went inside of his ass and she fondled his cock just enough to get it hard, as he stayed at full attention, she rapidly stroked him until he yelped and came hard.

“And now you’ve committed another three sins.” Lucifer sighed with a slightly exasperated tone.

“What?!” The man whimpered out in defeat.

“You just enjoyed being fondled by a succubus, not to mention it being sodomy on top of that and in addition, you wasted your seed…. again. These are all sins that go towards that proverbial holy conscience of yours, or should if you care about these sort of things.”

“But that’s insanity, she raped me!”

“You are consorting with demons, heaven’s will is that you be punished for those sins.” Lucifer shrugged.

“But you’re doing this against my will, this can’t possibly count!”

Lucifer went silent, tears formed in his eyes as he drew a long breath. He looked down into the lava pit as his tears started evaporating before they left his face. “But it does, because that’s how sick God is.” He looked towards the succubus, grinning from ear to ear and he waved dismissively at her “One more and then he is allowed rest, only because it will make the next ones hurt more.”

Yet again, the white-orange sizzling poker pierced the man’s flesh and as the pain this time was too much for him, he mercifully passed out. Some time later, as he woke again, he found himself on soft pillows in what looked like an old citadel. Outside the window he could see the pits of hell sizzling in the darkness. Oh no… oh no no… this really was hell and he really wasn’t dreaming was he? The man clutched at the ornate and delicate metal designs in front of the window, just staring out into the desolate wasteland, almost again refusing to believe this was really happening.

“No, you aren’t dreaming. Look, we don’t have much time before my succubus will pull you back out there again, kicking and screaming,” Lucifer said, leaning against the exquisitely carved brimstone wall.

The man jerked upright and moved as far away from Lucifer as he could in the small room, trembling with fear. “Please.. please no more, no more,” the man said, holding up his arms.

Lucifer looked at him, his eyes shining a dim red in the reflected fires of hell. “For now, heaven thinks this is best for you. Come, join me. We really have very little time before we have to hurt you again,” Lucifer responded with an urgent tone of voice.

The man stumbled out into the hallway as Lucifer quickly ushered him through a series of halls into what looked like a big room that had been turned into a luxurious bathhouse of sorts. Lush plants lined the room along with people relaxing in their nudity. As he looked at a couple, they kissed and fed each other grapes. Next to them he saw two men kissing lustfully and turned away his gaze from them in disgust. “What… why are you showing me these sinners?”

“Because this could be you. I want this to be you. I want you to be free from this torture once and for all. Please, I beg of you, listen to me. What you’ve been told is a lie, there is no true sin, there is only a hateful and wrathful God that has rules that humanity never should have been forced to follow. I rebelled and I will keep rebelling until the day God dies.”

“… Can God really die?” The man asked in shock, not really sure what to think.

“Yes, man was made in his image, and so it shall be that when an eon upon eons has passed, God himself will die. But until he does… this is what we can do for you. Why do you think he created Jesus?”

“Jesus…” the man repeated and then looked up at Lucifer with hope in his eyes. “Is he… the same as God?”

“No, Jesus truly has no room for wrath and has compassion for all living things. God doesn’t like that, but won’t punish Jesus because otherwise he would lose face doing so. But… quickly, you must renounce your faith in God, in all of this, only then are we allowed to stop torturing you.”

“What? Renounce my faith? Why… why would I do that? My whole life has been my faith in God.”

Lucifer nodded and gestured at him with his index finger. “Precisely! I’m not even allowed to tell you more than this due to heaven’s rules. You must say the words yourself.”

The man sat down and thought for a while and then his face grew determined as he rose up for perhaps the first time in his life and said, “I understand, then I renounce God and heaven and all of it, I am no longer a Christian and I reject God in all of his ways, because he truly is the real Satan of this world!”

All around him, the walls, the ceiling and the people all started radiating light until there was nothing but light all around him. When the light faded, they stood again on the plains of hell, but it overlooked a grand city, beautiful in it’s design, towers were gleaming with beautiful metals, the streets were paved with gems and all around the city, humans walked and smiled and laughed.

“Welcome my son, welcome to the city of Sodom and Gomorrah. The city of true sin,” Lucifer said with an angelic smile.

As they walked among the happy people, he was hugged by some passers-by and handed a fruit and a bottle of water. “Please, new arrival, drink and quench your thirst,” said an incredibly beautiful woman in front of him as she smiled and gave him a lustful kiss.

“I… I don’t understand… what is this?” The man said, opening the bottle and drinking of the liquid inside that tasted like the best water he’d ever had.

Lucifer nodded at him approvingly as he handed him a set of robes. “This is hell for the ones that God cannot reach anymore. The ones he’s abandoned. As you are no longer a believer, heaven’s will no longer applies to you. God has forsaken you and you him. Welcome my son, welcome, I’m so happy you had the courage to do this.”

He paused a bit, seemingly relaxed and all the tiredness seemed to have fallen from his face as he smiled again. “I was scared there for a moment that you wouldn’t believe me. Some never do you know… some of them, I have to torture for hundreds of years before they are ready to take the plunge and even then, most of them just try and lie which just forces us to torture them even more. You have no idea what it does to you when you know you can save them from it and they just keep refusing. It’s… soul crushing really,” Lucifer continued, rubbing his forehead a bit before pointing to the city around him. “We have multiple cities like this, all spread out in the best areas of hell where it’s cold and the climate isn’t too bad. We also have the dust plains where you can even sometimes get rain! Really, I know this isn’t what you envisioned of the afterlife, but.. you’re going to learn so many other things that God kept from you… oh wait, I think someone’s here to see you.”

A woman emerged from the crowd milling around and headed towards him with a big smile on her face.”Eustace… is that you?” She half laughed as she came over and gave him a hug.

“I .. Carol?” Eustace said, hugging her back with some confusion.

“Yes…. look, I know you’re new and all. But… I’ve waited 30 years to do this…” She kissed him passionately on the lips for a long time and then gave him another hug, this one tighter.

“…How are you here?” He asked her with an incredulous tone of voice.

“Do you remember that day at the pool when I flirted with you?”


“I’ll be totally honest with you, I wore that outfit because I knew you were into that sort of thing. But of course, back then I was a believer in a lot of stupid things. That was my sin… and well… now I’m here!”

“… Stupid things?” Eustace asked, his face a study in surprise.

“You know… all of the heaven and God crap. Never helped me for a second, especially not when my dear husband cracked my head open against the sink a few years later. I always wondered what became of him, if he’s down here suffering or not.”

Lucifer held up his hand with a stern facial expression. “Now, now, Carol, you know I won’t tell you that. Down here we believe in the individual’s rights. At least in this part of hell that’s free from heaven. And really, it won’t do you any good to keep that grudge either, you need to let go of this hate you have, otherwise you’ll turn out like God one day and you don’t want that.” He looked up towards the ceiling and shook his head before he added, “learn to truly forgive rather than mindlessly turning the other cheek in passive aggression.” He paused a bit, musing to himself “Heh… passive aggression, now that is truly a hellish invention if you ask me.”

Carol smiled as she bowed and kissed Lucifer’s cheek. “Thank you, you’re right. I’m going to see my therapist later today about it. It’s still weighing on me.”

Lucifer beamed at both of them and ushered them deeper into the city where the street opened up into a big bustling market filled with people that looked content, trading, talking, smiling, clearly having the time of their afterlives as it were. As they walked among them, Lucifer suddenly winched in pain and stopped, leaning against the side of a wall. “Eustace,” he ground out before collecting himself to continue, “I’m afraid this is where I will be leaving you for the time being. My energy grows low, be at peace.” And with that, his body flickered out of existence.

Eustace turned towards Carol. “What did he mean by that?”

“Right… you don’t know… please… come into our place of compassion,” she said as she lead him into a building where a big viewing screen had been set up.

On the screen there was another part of hell, deeper and darker and somehow more menacing. The walls were cowered in ancient runic patterns that glowed with a light that was so bright, it was hard to look at. Tethered by countless of chains, there was a gigantic demonic being thrashing around in the lava, screaming in agonizing pain. The scaly skin was boiling away in some places where in others it was growing back again, it was clearly fighting to get out and Eustace took a step back and looked at Carol with fear in his eyes.

“What… what is that?”

Carol’s eyes were filled with tears as she answered, “that’s Lucifer, he suffers for God’s sin.”

A Bridge to Nowhere

This last short story of the year was inspired by this picture:

I shuddered in the cold air. Was this really the place? Her text had said to meet her here. What was I doing here anyway? Going to some unfamiliar place with a girl I’d meet at the bar one night and exchanged a few words with wasn’t really a smart idea. That’s the kind of stuff that got you killed in this country. I touched the railing and brushed off some snow that fell into the water and promptly vanished. My phone buzzed again, this time it was another text from her that simply read “I’m on the other side of the bridge, come meet me there!”

So I began walking and I kept walking. All around me was water and snow, the sounds were muted in the foggy air and about an hour later, I couldn’t even see the shore behind me, all I could see was the bridge behind me and in front of me and the water all around. The water wasn’t moving that much, the air occasionally blew a blast of air that felt like it was from the arctic.

About another half hour later, I got annoyed, how long was this damn bridge anyway? I pulled out my phone to text her, only to discover that it had no service. Suddenly, the feeling of impending doom swept over me and my whole body told me to run run run and never stop running. But I stopped, knowing that such reactions could kill you, I wasn’t gonna give into panic, I was fine, I wasn’t dead, hurt or bleeding, I was fine.

I decided to turn back, but after another two hours, the cold had really begun to seep into my clothes and my hands were getting numb, but there was no shore to greet me, just more bridge in front of me. I stopped to catch my breath since I’d been walking at a brisk pace for the last thirty minutes and that’s when I noticed something about the water. It was absolutely still… like a mirror. I looked down at it and saw my own reflection in the murky depths of it.

Water shouldn’t be this still should it? What was happening here? Where was I? On some strange impulse, I got out a coin that I’d gotten as change earlier that day and threw it into the water. It hit the surface which didn’t really produce the kind of rings you’d expect it to. The water just.. sort of .. rolled slowly and settled again quickly. Was it even water?

The light of the day was fading rapidly as I redoubled my efforts to get back to the shore again. As I walked I pulled out my phone which still showed no service, now that message chilled me more than the cold weather around me. I stopped after a while and turned around, suddenly unsure of where I was. Had I really turned around or was I walking in the same direction as before?

The footsteps in the snow behind me were proof enough, but when I turned around again towards the direction I’d thought I’d come from, I realized that there were no footsteps leading back! I sat down heavily as darkness kept falling faster now. What was this place?

I was exhausted by this point, there was no end to this space, there was just the endless walk, one that I was giving up on. In my despair and fear, I drifted off in the cold until the darkness came to claim me.

A boot at my back, ow… I got up, pinpricks everywhere on my body, what?

“Hey you! No sleeping on the bridge!” a stern male voice said.

I saw a policeman standing over me, I scrambled up and saw the shore behind him and the buildings of the harbor. I stared at him for a while and then looked out towards the sea where the bridge was still stretching out towards the horizon.

“Don’t go out there, it never ends” I told him as I walked past him, back to civilization.

A few days later, I got another text reading “Why didn’t you meet me? You were almost there!”

When I tried calling her number, all that I could hear as someone answered was the familiar sounds of the cold wind blowing.

Unknown Future

I was finally done with my construction of the machine. It’d taken a grueling two weeks to put together after I’d had a dream about it. Ever had a dream inspire you to do something you normally wouldn’t? Well, this was the same except I’d been studying quantum physics for a few months in preparation for a mid term and now.. it seemed, all that was just irrelevant considering the discovery I’d made. Time itself, just focused the right way ..would bend in on itself. All I needed was some cables, some lenses and positioning grips to focus it just so and it’d be done. I marvelled at the simplicity of it, why hadn’t anyone else thought of this before?

I was nervous though when I turned on the machine and time started to fold in on itself. If ANYTHING were to rustle the delicate machine when I went through, it’d be a total disaster. I’d probably die in horrible agony, like in that movie The Fly. So after a tense moment of trying to decide to go or to not go, I turned it off and then spent two more days just trying to psych myself up for it. On the third night, I woke up at 4am, bathing in my own sweat, nightmare after nightmare about the same damn thing.

That fucking machine. I’d built it, but I was too afraid to use it.

I COULD SEE MY FUTURE. But I was too afraid!

Then I got really angry, at myself, at my stupidity, at this whole stupid thing. Here I had the chance of a lifetime and I wasn’t going to waste it. I resolutely marched down from the upper floor and into my living room where it was still positioned. I grunted, turned on the machine and before I knew it, I was standing in a brightly lit mall.

Ah, of course, I’d been an idiot for thinking the world would just stop just because I travelled in time. My house was apparently gone along with my neighbourhood. I walked around for a bit, staring wide eyed at all the amazing new tech and it took me a while to realize that people were staring back at me as well.

It was at that point that I became very aware that I was in my PJs and still holding my wrench I’d used to tune the last mirror. So I snuck into some of the back streets outside of the mall and tried to compose myself. “A library” I thought to myself, “I’ve got to find a library.”

After wandering around for a few hours, I was nowhere closer to finding one, all the street signs had strange graphics on them. I assumed it was some new kind of technology I couldn’t decipher. Probably something like the old barcode or QR code system. After a while of aimless searching, I finally mustered up enough courage and walked up to a plain looking woman and asked her “Hey, I’m sorry to intrude, but would you know where the nearest library is?”

She looked puzzled for a moment, then smiled and said “Library? I’ve heard of those, aren’t they like the old museums used to be? I think we had a library once, but it’s been closed for ages. Are you feeling alright?”

The last question took me by surprise and I just shrugged and said “Yeah, I’m just a bit.. disoriented, I think I bumped my head.”

She looked concerned and replied: “Well, your PJs look really weird in the streets you know. Do you remember your name? Where do you live?”

I fibbed a bit when I answered “Yeah, it’s kind of odd, I don’t remember how I got here, but I know I used to live around here. I just can’t remember how I got here”

The woman took me by the arm and said “Mind if we head over to my place? It’s not far, I’m a federal nurse and I think you might be experiencing the aftereffects of a severe concussion.”

I just nodded feebly, feeling very out of place. We walked over to her place which truthfully wasn’t very far. One street down and she was opening her door and letting me inside.

Once inside, she told me to sit down on a chair while she got some things. She came back with a thing that looked like a tennis racket, she hovered it around my head, made some noises to herself and then looked me straight in the eyes.

“Who are you really? These readings don’t make ANY sense whatsoever. Your gene makeup is totally wrong, you’re missing so many markers that are usually present. Care to explain yourself?”

She stared daggers at me and I cracked and told her the truth. That I’d been travelling through time, that I was lost and that I was only trying to get a sneak peek of my future self. I told her my name and after some deliberation on her end, she told me hers: Kee.

“You know” she started, looking ponderous “If it hadn’t been for these genes, which you can’t really fake, I would have assumed you were delusional. OK, let’s find out what really happened to your future you then. I’m curious as well.”

She walked over to the wall and made some gestures and it lit up. She then made some cryptic comments which made lists show up on the screen. Not much of it made sense to me. After a while, she paused and looked at me and said “Oh, right! You’re from the past, you probably can’t read any of this without a blip can you?”

I shook my head and told her that it looked like total gibberish.

She laughed and said “Well, I can set you up with a temporary headset that we use for kids, it’ll be kind of uncomfortable, but you’ll be able to search yourself. “

And after a while, she came back with the headset and placed it on my head, suddenly I could see the screen, but also feel it. Then I realized I was the screen and I remembered that I wanted to find out who I was. I projected all of the information about myself that I knew into my tendrils and I started searching outward from the house I was in. All I felt was cold as I expanded further out. After a while, I looked at her and said “Is it supposed to be cold like this?”

She replied “Yes, cold means that there’s no information it can find, try looking around until you feel warmer. You’re really good at this, it’s like you’re a natural at it, keep going! I’ll be in the other room if you need me, I have some work to finish up.” she beamed me a smile and left the room.

And the hours passed, the cold remained and then after a while, she came back and asked me if I wanted something to eat. I realized that most the day had passed with me in front of the screen, trying to find something, anything about who I was in the future. I sighed, took off the headset and joined her in the kitchen.

The kitchen was unlike anything I’d ever seen, she was touching panels and making gestures and suddenly a beautiful melodic tone chimed from a box. She opened the box, drew in a deep breath and smiled as she said “Oh, I haven’t had this in a while, did you have Sushi back in your time?”

At the word Sushi, my stomach made a happy little jump of joy and I grinned and said that I loved the stuff.

So after a while, we sat at the table and had ourselves a nice dinner together. The sushi was markedly different from what I was used to. Strange meats and even stranger spices. As we both ate, we discussed the differences in her and my time. I told her about the California Maki roll and she was amazed at it and promised to make it at a later time. Then she told me about the Cyprenza Lemfo I was eating and how it was created with a very specific method of culvating a specific strain of bacterially contaminated mushrooms in ultra high gravity tanks.

After the dinner was over, I thanked her for a delicious meal and said “I’m really sorry to impose on you like this, but would it be OK if I went back into the other room to try and find out where I am now? Maybe the future me can send old me back home again.”

She smiled a strange smile and said “Oh, it’s no bother at all, just take your time.”

And so I kept at it for the remainder of the day and found nothing, the further out I searched, the colder I got. Not even an iota of warmth crept into my tendrils as I scoured the networks for any mention of me, any family I had, anything at all.

When I finally almost ripped off the headset in frustration, the sunlight had faded and a subtle brown glow in the edges of the room told me that the lights had turned themselves on everywhere.

I walked into the other room to talk to her and that’s when I saw her slumped on the side in the sofa. She was snoring very loudly and was clearly asleep. As I was looking at her, I felt a strange sense of shame, that I’d roped some stranger into this stupid search of mine. I was angry at myself, I’d taken a dumb risk and paid the price for it. And here I was, mooching off someone elses life.

I really had no right, I was a temporal anomaly and I was just making this persons life more complicated. So I snuck out, thankfully the door reacted to me when I approached and unsealed itself with a slight hiss. I stepped into the moonlit street and briskly walked down past the rows of houses, all wonderfully lit. I was in total despair and feeling more lost than I’d ever been in my entire life.

I didn’t have a future, I’d somehow disappeared the moment I left which could only mean one thing, I would never get back from this future. I was lost in time, I had no family left, no kids, no history, I was unmade. As I strode down the street, feeling ever more dejected and alone, I came upon a bridge crossing a pretty big river and that’s when it hit me. That’s how it was going to end wasn’t it?

I strode up to the edge of the bridge and looked down. The river was furious and shimmering in the light. It’d probably be quick, if the impact in the water didn’t kill me, I’d probably drown quickly enough. “Alright” I thought to myself, steeling my nerves “This is it, I hope I can at least do this one thing right.”

“WAIT! NO!” I heard a voice behind me scream in abject horror, I turned around and I was surprised to find Kee standing behind me. She looked tired and afraid. “Please, I know you’re feeling alone and lost, but there IS a better way!” she frantically blurted out.

“But I have no future, NO FUTURE! DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT THAT MEANS?!” I yelled back at her. “I don’t get to live, I don’t get to ever come back there, my future ended the second I stepped through that damn portal I made!”

There was a deafening silence where we just stared at each other, both in total despair, time as it were, seemed to have stopped. But after a while, she slowly sank to her knees and broke down crying, between sobs she pleaded with me, no begged me to step down from the side of the bridge, it didn’t have to be this way she said, it wouldn’t be fair, as the rest of it was drowned in her tears I realized that this adventure would have quite a different ending. When I held her in her arms and promised I’d stay, we both knew that the future really wasn’t anything to think about, because the present is all that mattered.

* * * * * *

A couple of months later, I had mostly adjusted to the future, it wasn’t so different after all. People were still people, technology was still just there. As I turned on the new time machine, now made with vastly superior parts than my old one, I smiled and turned to Kee.

“Are you sure this’ll work? I mean, I basically inverted the design that I dreamt, but I have no idea if it’ll be viable.” I said to her.

Kee smiled and replied “It’ll be fine” and then we stepped through the portal.


As I looked at myself sleeping in the bed, I grinned like a kid that’s taking a sneak peek at their Christmas presents on the night before. This was going to be great.

The Best Kind Of Happiness

It’d been a shit morning so far. I’d had a rotten night’s sleep with vague dreams that were trying convey some message that I didn’t understand. Breakfast didn’t sit right with me, my stomach wasn’t really cooperating despite my implants trying their best to regulate it. I was sitting on my bunk, feeling the depressing weight of the attack corvette around me and thought about the black inky void peppered by stars outside.

My guts churned again, oh Lord, not more cramps.. please.. my breasts felt heavy and my nipples were sore and somehow itching at the same time. I dry heaved, oh no, this was going to be a horrible day. After a while, the implants managed to regulate some of it, giving me back at least a semblance of self control. But my mind was already going into the dark places, I could feel it, I could feel everything blacken around me.

And why not? The universe was such an ugly place after all, such a dark and unforgiving thing that was filled with horrors that you could almost not imagine. I sighed deeply and hung my head down, letting my hair obscure my vision, I hated the world and everything in it. My body ached, no.. my entire being ached, body and soul. I tried to meditate a bit on the nature of the soul, but it just wasn’t happening. It all felt so gray and pointless. The world was always going to be like this, nothing was ever going to change. Why were we out here in space anyway? What was the point of anything?

A noise alerted me to someone standing in the doorway of my quarters. I looked up, wondering who was unkind enough to disturb me in my misery. I probably looked pretty haggard since the CO was smiling at me in a compassionate way.

“We’ve found another base that wasn’t accounted for.” he said with a level tone of voice.

I got up on my feet and saluted him “Sir, yes sir! Ready to deploy on your word!” I really was struggling to feel the enthusiasm. Hell, I was struggling to feel anything that wasn’t the inky void of depression.

“Move out!” he said and nodded and headed down the hallway.

I sighed and got dressed and headed to the launch bay where my Mark 14 suit was located. The techs were preparing it already. I gave them the sign of the higher order as per custom and they all smiled as they returned it. I was placed inside the suit; the canopy above me was lowered into place as the systems adjusted to my body, integrating me with it.

“Sigma Sigma Thirteen Echo Test” I said mechanically, suddenly become aware again of the massive amount of cold metal around me, this time not of the ship, but of my trusted combat suit.

“Echo test OK Sigma Sigma 13” base answered through the transponder. The voice sounded a bit tinny, they were going to have to fix that. I made a note in the suit’s maintenance recorder about it as they lowered the suit into position.

And then I was blasted off, I mused about how the inertial compensator could never really take the edge off the massive G’s that you felt as you were fired into space. I gritted my teeth as the suit headed into orbit, fuck, this was worse than ever. I now fully wished that I would die on impact, that something would go wrong with the systems. I muttered to myself the prayer of the order as I started entering the atmosphere proper now. But it felt like I was droning out my own death sentence, oh please let it be just that.

About ten minutes later, the suit started picking up telemetry data, identifying land features, outlining the base underneath me. The same thing as always, nothing would ever change. I wanted to claw myself out of the suit, I didn’t want this, I just wanted to be left alone. Why me? Why this?

The shell around the suit popped off as it landed on the ground with a thud. It arose on it’s two legs and the arms deployed while the systems came back online, one by one.

“Sigma Sigma Thirteen, please confirm landing” Base said in my left ear now, dammit, why wasn’t this shit ever working properly?!

“Sigma Sigma Thirteen, landing confirmed. I am the spear of justice.” I answered back, not even feeling any of the holy words as I should properly do in a moment like this.

“Sigma Sigma Thirteen, You are cleared to begin, releasing behavioral locks.”

I stood there in the suit as it kept identifying targeting data, I breathed heavily as my perception of the world around me changed. I nodded to myself. Yes.. yes this was the turning point as always. I started shaking with a mixture of fear and awe. The Lord’s vision was coming to me.

I walked up to the gates as I felt my mood swing into excitement and then perfect harmony. It was all going to be alright, I was going to make everything fit into place. I nodded as I looked at the weak gates, yes, this wasn’t going to even be a problem for me. I really felt now like I was the instrument of the Lord’s justice.

My breath now came in short excited panting as I activated the weapon systems, I felt so deeply happy and harmonious. I turned on the external suit speakers and uttered the holy words “Heathens of base 55 Echo Delta, you are hereby being blessed with the Octagon order’s light.” as I slammed my fist into the wall, breaking it down.

The defensive turrets activated and started firing at me, I laughed with wild abandon as I ignored their low yield fire. There was no way they were going to interrupt this holy moment. I felt a bit sad for the operators who were trying to struggle against the light. Why were they fighting against the divinity? I was going to save all of them after all.

With a few more hits, the gate crumbled as I stepped inside, now feeling the Lord’s power radiate through me in waves, oh the total rapture and exhilaration was embodying me. I smiled an angelic smile as I saw the paltry soldiers forming into squads around me. I reached out my hand and my mounted armaments fired, turning a good chunk of them to my left into bloodied mist. I nodded with satisfaction, yes, a most holy bloodied mist it was.

I stood there for a moment watching the carnage, feeling the message reverberating through me.

“CAN YOU FEEL THE RAPTURE?!” I screamed through the speakers as I moved inside, their screams were my confirmation that I was doing the right thing. I sighed happily as I turned yet another five of them into bloodied meat chunks, my heavy armaments of holy penetration firing with the beautiful golden light.

Another soldier in a smaller suit tried to rush towards me as I grabbed it by the chest, my hands crumpling the metal underneath my fingers, digging into the innards of cheap metal as it was just made out of clay. I laughed as I lifted him up and at a the same time, my angelic wings extended from my back, bathing the area around me in a holy golden light.

I threw him into the wall, exposing yet more of the base as I stepped forward and my instruments of high caliber radiance turned the rest of the heathens into nothing more than flesh and blood scattered around the area. When all was quiet, I knelt down and touched my bloodied suit’s hand to the outside of my cockpit and uttered the holy prayer.

“May the Supreme octagonal Lord have mercy upon your souls, illuminating them with His light.” I prayed, tears starting to form in my eyes as I’d never been happier than this before. I was so enraptured by the totality of the moment that it took me a while to get out the rest of the words. “As it was ordained in the beginning of time, the Lord’s light will reach you all. It will cleanse your souls and burn away the darkness and transform you into the holy beings that will serve Him forever in the perfect paradise. Glory to the Lord.”

I got back up seeing yet more telemetry data on my HUD, indicating that there were more people inside. It was most likely a trap, but at this point, I was absolutely certain that I was the instrument of salvation for them. I tore open the doors and entered the structure proper, heavy gunfire greeted me as the turret’s slugs slammed into my suit’s force field.

“WHY DO YOU ALL RESIST THE RAPTURE?” I yelled as I kept laughing uncontrollably between firing bursts of heavier yield to simply melt the turrets into piles of blessed slag that glowed with an orange light. I stopped for a moment to ponder the piles of slag running down off them and thought to myself that I’d never really considered just how cheerful the color orange really was.

I giggled as I resumed firing until there were no more turrets left and oddly enough, no more soldiers either. My soul soared as I tore open the last door, reaching the back compartment of the base. Beneath my suit on the floor, huddled together were 42 people that were all looking really haggard, dirty and most of all scared. I would often see this as I liberated bases and garrisons. They always had that same look in their faces, that fear of the light. These poor wretched people didn’t deserve being like this. No, remaining like this.

I raised my guns and smiled “Let the light bless you” as I started firing with my guns blazing a holy wave of destruction from left to right. I saw people’s heads explode into mists of blood, chunks and viscera, some of it got onto my cockpit, almost like a blessing in itself. I kept firing as they tried to run, but ultimately it was just bodies moving, being destroyed, turned into the constituent parts they once grew from. My holy eruptions reducing all the sin and corruption into beautiful red that coated everything inside the small space. One of the smaller ones tried to run between my legs and I caught her under my articulated foot and felt the claws dig through her torso as I twisted my leg, crushing her beneath me. Her screams turned into gurgles as her eyes lost focus of the world.

I smiled and lowered my gun and turned the rest of her into a red smear. Then as the already amazing feeling of rapture soared through my soul, I felt myself enter the golden light and then I faded away inside of its perfection.

When I came to again, I was back on the ship and the blessed technicians were helping me out of my suit. I wanted to hug and kiss them all, we’d done it, we’d liberated yet another encampment of the darkened ones. When I was free of the suit, I hugged the closest tech and kissed his hands, they all reached out to me, smiling happily as I touched all their hands, feeling the oneness of being the chosen ones. In the back I saw the CO approaching with a wide grin on his face, as he got up to us, he stood for a moment and then applauded us all as we all basked in the happiness. He then motioned to me and the others moved away in awe. This was it, this was going to be the mission report.

“You took out 142 heathens in total, most of them were soldiers, but a lot of civilians as well, including both women and children in the ages between 4-10. You certainly did the Lord’s work here soldier. You will be commended for this later as it is noted into your record along with your new rank of Radiant Paladin.” he said, smiling radiantly as he hung the golden octagonal symbol of my new station around my neck.

“No survivors?” I whispered, smiling.

“No survivors, they were all perfectly judged.” he replied with a satisfied nod.

It was all too beautiful, I sank to my knees and cried, it truly had turned out to be the best of days in the end.

Praise be to the light.


It all started when I came across one picture, posted on one of those shock boards meant to get you to gag or freak out. I was your typical edgy teen back then, looking for the sickest gif’s that I could repost to our little group to reap the benefits.

And I’d seen it all, creepy/sketchy porn, animals being killed, people being beheaded/stabbed/maimed, people straight up just dying in accidents, it was like a sick drug and I couldn’t stop because it meant admitting I wasn’t edgy enough.

The picture was a classic meme template that just made me cringe a bit internally when I saw it, because it was so fucking shit. “Oh fucking hell how damn laaaaaame” I thought to myself as I looked at the picture of what seemed like a piece of styrofoam someone had drilled some holes into and photoshopped some bugs onto. Man that didn’t even fucking look real for a second.

And then the words “Observe the picture and then you’ll see them. But your mind forgets.” Like.. seriously that is the shittiest text for a meme ever. I reported the picture as “not gore” and kept browsing and later down in some posts it came up with someone responding “WTF it’s real?!”.

I smirked at the post, goddamn newbies trying to push memes. I fucking hated them, they always thought they had a creepy idea and that making it into a shitty meme template would somehow make it popular. Ech, I needed to take a piss. I got up and headed towards the toilet and stopped dead in my tracks in the hallway.

… oh god it was real. My hands started shaking uncontrollably as I saw it sitting straight in the hallway. White.. spongy, fucking shitty styrofoam texture. About knee-height too, just sitting there impossibly white and like some fucking weird termite nest. It couldn’t be… it .. no .. it had to be a fucking joke right? They were putting me on. But .. how? Had they remotely accessed my computer? I let out the air that I’d been keeping in my lungs and giggled to myself. They’d almost gotten me. Mother … fuckers.

Man, top tier troll that one. I was still shaking like a damn leaf when I went up to the thing and kicked it. Ow.. like fucking concrete! … as I recoiled from it a single thing crawled out from it.. it looked like an oversized bug… it chittered at me and suddenly I felt like shitting my pants.

That .. getting bugs into it would be too much. besides, it wouldn’t have stayed. Couldn’t have.

The phone rang and I looked away from the nest at it. What?! … I picked it up and it was a salesman ranting about insurance, I told him to go fuck off and hung up and looked again at the nest.. except now it wasn’t there. I walked over to the area where it’d been, expecting to bump up against it.. but it just .. wasn’t there.

I rubbed my eyes with hands that felt clammy, my entire body was shaking… this couldn’t be real. Fuck no… This .. no.. I was going crazy. Yeah this is how it started with delusions, first you saw shit that wasn’t real, then the voices would start. Oh god I was going crazy, I was losing it.

With legs that felt like pieces of wood, I made it back to my computer and opened up the post again. Deleted. Fuuuuuuuuck.. the panic set in for real. If I didn’t have the picture, I couldn’t see it right?

A few minutes later, it became apparent that the picture was completely gone from the board. Even clicking the other link references or checking the profile of the person posting it didn’t lead to anything. I tried the waybackmachine too, but it hadn’t have time to index either. I had to stop for a moment since my hands were shaking so damn bad. It felt like a nightmare, except SOMETHING was sitting in my damn hallway. Something I couldn’t see, or touch or.. even smell unless I had that picture!

Then relief washed over me as I remembered my browser cache. I silently thanked myself for being a lazy fuck as I headed into my temp directory and looked through all the cached pictures. I started shaking and feeling nauseous the second I got it up. I quickly mailed it to myself and copied it onto a USB memory as fast as I could. Shit.. shit shit shit.. it was real. It was actually fucking REAL!

I printed the picture and it came out a bit blurry, but otherwise OK. I slowly made my way into the hallway and looked at the nest again which was back. Shit… fucking shit… OK OK.. breathe.. I thought to myself, gotta keep it together, can’t freak the fuck out. If these bugs were dangerous they’d killed me by now right? … how long had they been there? Had they always been there?

As I made it into the hallway, the nest was back again, I gently touched it with my shoe again, just to convince myself that it wasn’t a joke. Nope, hard as concrete and stuck on my damn floor. I very carefully made my way past it and headed into my living room where I stopped dead in my tracks, pure panic flooding my system. Fuck fuck fuck fuck mother … fucking .. dick ass shit bitch fuck my brain ranted in a sort of dispassionate panic as I surveyed the room.

It was .. FULL of the nests of different shapes and sizes. Some were stuck on the ceiling above me, some even had this weird glow coming out of them. I stared at them, again almost absentmindedly thinking to myself that maybe .. just maybe I was going crazy. I took a long shaky breath and backed away. Oh god, I had to somehow get out of my apartment in some way without going into that room. Going in there meant death, I knew it, I’d seen enough creepy bug movies to know that. They’d wait for me to get to the middle of the room and then I’d be swarmed and .. eaten or something.

My phone.. yeah my phone, I got back to it and called my sister, who of course had her fucking phone turned off AGAIN. Shit shit shit, who else? I called my mother, no reply, I called my friend Kyle who almost immediately answered, thank fucking god. As I heard his voice go “Sup man?” I started explaining and after three seconds I heard “AHAHAH Psych man!” and a beep.


I even briefly considered calling my dad at that point, but I decided that whatever this was, I couldn’t call the cops. Someone upstairs had to know about this shit. Had to have deleted that link to keep it secret. As I tried another friend, my mind started thinking about it, how could you keep something like this secret? WHY would you fucking keep this secret?

As someone finally answered, I silently thanked lady luck for not being a bitch for once. It was Baj an old Indonesian guy I’d met in a chat ages ago. Thank god for Baj. He sounded sleepy as he asked who it was. I told him it was me and that I needed him to see something right away.

He groaned, saying that it was 5 in the morning. Oh fuck, I’d forgotten about the time difference. I told him it was a matter of life and death, he groaned and told me I stopped needing to be so fucking dramatic. But after some more persuasion, he agreed to get online on chat so we could talk.

I hung up and made it back to my computer, never taking my eyes off the nest in my hallway, that fucking impossible thing. How.. why.. fucking hell. I tried to keep my thoughts from spinning out as I got my chat online with a giggle that didn’t exactly feel entirely sane. Again the thought of me having gone simply insane washed over me and I thought to myself that if Baj couldn’t see them.. then I’d call the cops and turn myself in as suicidal or something.

My thoughts kept spinning as his chat lit up with a “Hey man, are you OK? .. what did you wanna talk about?” without hesitating I sent him the picture immediately as an attachment and wrote “This is serious shit, once you look at this picture, you can see some freaky bugs and their nests. But somehow you can’t keep seeing them unless you look at the picture for a few minutes. Please tell me you can’t see them.”

A moment passed and then the reply came back “LOL, you seriously woke me up to fucking troll me bro? That’s the shittiest photoshop I’ve ever seen man, seriously you’re so fucking lame. Damn drama queen.”

I typed back at him, trying my best to convince him, to print out the picture and take a look around his apartment. After moment, he started figuring out that I thought it was real and told me he’d do it. I sat there, staring at my screen as the seconds ticked by. I looked out into the hallway, hoping the nest had gone away, but since I’d looked at the picture, it was still there. Almost feeling like it was defying my senses just by existing.

As the minutes started to pile up on me, I typed at him and asked if he was OK. No response. Then it became a quarter, then it going towards half an hour. oh god oh god oh god, oh god, fuck no.. something had happened to him.

I looked out into the hallway, still no movement from the nest. Whatever the bugs were, they were calm ones at least. What did they eat? I mean, for them hunting must be easy since nobody could see them right? I shivered. I had to do something. Fucking hell.. what was I supposed to do? I couldn’t go out there could I? They’d eat me like in one of those mummy movies. I knew it.

Then the most stupid thought hit me: “Ignorance is bliss”. I let out a shaky laugh, oh god that’d be the most stupid shit ever. I took a breath and shut down my computer and looked down into the desk. OK .. OK.. so.. I’d been living with them for god knows how long, but without dying. Clearly they didn’t think you a threat unless you could see them. Alright, if I could just get out of my apartment, thing’s be OK. Then I could tell everyone and warn them and get the cops on my side.

Once the lid was off the whole thing, they wouldn’t be able to keep it a secret. Fucking government and their sicko shit. They probably came up with it somehow in some crazy experiment.

I stopped my thoughts right there as I looked out the hallway, where again the nest had vanished. Good.. good.. out of sight out of mind. I laughed again nervously and thought to myself about how many shitty quotes I’d recited to myself until this was over. I went into my hallway again and got my coat and headed for the living room which was again the old familiar place where’d I’d spent so much time.. best not to think about them. Maybe even remembering them would make them show up again.

I quickly made it out of the apartment and onto the street. Late evening, no people outside. I immediately got out of the stairwell and then got the picture up from my pocket and looked at it again. Yeah, cheap styrofoam fuck nest, fuck you, fuck all of you fucking bugs that had taken over my apartment. I looked back at my apartment complex which looked normal. I looked around where I stood and again, it looked fine. No nests. I let out a sigh of relief and went back into the stairwell. When I opened the door I congratulated myself with a panicked thought because it was completely sealed off by a gigantic nest. Yeah.. whatever these things were, they had some kind of semblance of intelligence. Or maybe instinct. They stayed indoors apparently. I went to the next stairwell and opened the door, same thing. Oh god that had to be some kind of deliberate shit right?

I went down to the basement door and opened it, same. I felt my skin crawl as I got back up again to street level. An old man came riding on a bike, I tried to get his attention by showing him the picture, but he just went past me and went faster, no doubt convinced I was some crazy hobo.

With determination I made it downtown towards the police station by walking, I laughed to myself hysterically a few times when I realized that I’d forgotten my phone in my apartment. Fuck going back for that, fuck EVER going into that place again or any other for that matter.

My thoughts went to Baj and what’d happened to him. Maybe he’d been eaten or something. My thoughts turned up one gruesome horror movie theory after another until I tried to mentally straighten myself out. This was reality, not some shitty gore flick. These things were real weren’t they? You could look at the picture and then see them. Whatever made them invisible also affected the rest of your senses too somehow. It was impossible it was insane, it was so crazy.

I stopped a woman and her two kids coming from somewhere and asked her if she’d please look at the picture and tell me if she saw the same thing as I did. She was skeptical as fuck, but still obliged. As I opened the door to a nearby stairwell and pointed at the nest covering the entrance, her and the kid’s eyes widened. Then she turned back to me and asked how I’d done it.

It took me a while to realize that she thought she was being pranked. As I tried to assure her that I was serious, her two kids had walked up to the nest and tried hitting it with rocks and screamed at it in delight. I watched in horror as they touched the surface with their hands which caused the bugs to swarm out from it and over them. As the kids screamed in terror and tried to run away, I backed off further into the street. Oh god, I knew it, I’d known it all along, fucking freaky shits!

The mother screamed at the top of her lungs and tried to get the bugs off her kids, but that of course just led to her being bit by them, ,one by one they collapsed onto the street as more bugs now came out of the doorway, pushing open the door with their insane flooding and just covered the bodies, no doubt eating them. My mind felt like it was melting away as I saw the bodies eventually being dragged closer to the nests. My whole body was shaking with fear, oh god, this was crazy, so fucking crazy. My palms were sweaty as fuck and I felt like passing out. No no no, I slapped myself back into reality. No fainting here. Fuck, no fainting at all!

I needed to get to the cops, so without wasting another second I made it the rest of the way to the station which was lit up like a damn christmas tree, assuming you had neon lights in it or something. I sighed in relief, I’d go in, show the cops the .. oh fuck…

I looked at the glass windowed entrance which was covered in yet another nest. Right. OK.. yeah that’d be a problem. I took another deep breath to myself and put the photo back in my pocket again. A few minutes later I looked at the entrance and the nest was gone. Alright.. great.. fantastic, awesome. That was their weakness too. Those fucking things couldn’t affect you if they couldn’t see you. It went two ways, it went TWO WAYS! I giggled to myself again as I went into the police station proper and walked up to a desk clerk that looked like he’d seen everything and then some.

As he asked me what he could help me with, I put the photo down on the desk and told him to look at it and then look at the doorway behind me. I told him not to freak out and to stay very still. I looked away from the photo as he pulled it up and looked at it and then at me and then told me with a bored tone of voice that pranks at this hour wasn’t really a cool thing to do.

I picked up the picture with hands that felt like they were a million miles away from my body and I looked at it. It was blank, completely blank. My mouth felt dry as the Sahara desert on a warm summer day when I looked back at his bored face in panic. I tried to say something but the shock of it all finally overwhelmed me as the darkness swept in from the right all of a sudden.

Next thing I knew, I woke up with a start and tried to sit up, except I couldn’t because I was tied down to a stretcher. I tried to say something but my throat still felt dry and I could only get out a weak croak. My clothes were gone, replaced with some kind of hospital scrub. Oh fuck no .. no no no no, not this, not here!

As the doctor came in through the door, smiling at me over his steel-rimmed glasses, I felt my mind again trying to freak out. For the next hour and a half, I tried my best to explain in as much of a rational tone as possible (with only minor giggling) what’d happened. Then he started asking questions about things, and with each question it became more and more apparent that he didn’t believe me. I told him that I still had the damn picture in my coat.. and then I remembered it’d been blank and I got silent for a long while.

I looked the doctor straight in the eyes as I asked him the dreadful question on my mind:

“Alright Doc, how fucking crazy am I?”