AND SO IT BEGINS
“Why do I even bother trying?” the professor berated himself, as he brutally shoved the multitude of term papers into his overly worn shoulder bag. The auditorium, filled to capacity minutes before, is now gratefully escorting the remaining fragments of students to the great outdoors.
“They think they know so much more than everyone else,” he hissed, recalling each face, each mouth as, during the lecture, they repeatedly interrupted each scientifically proven theory and each carefully constructed and explained experiment. With meticulous brutality, the faces probed, questioned and accused until he heard himself make mistakes, contradict himself and finally, lastly, blatantly lie.
Alone in the auditorium, he simmers and seethes in his anger; nourishes it with vengeful visions; strokes and caresses it with foul words and gestures.
Only I see it.
I feel it.
Swirls around his head and feet simultaneously, rhythmically and, quite literally, passionately. Every inhale drags it deeply into his lungs, where it catches briefly before filling the entirety of his being.
There is no way that it could be so complete in form and function.
So perfect in its evil.
So pure in its ability to corrupt and destroy.
This is only possible if it is sent from heaven itself.
The lawyer stands at the corner bus stop as she has done countless times. The hearing for her court case is uptown, and the ride is a quick and painless one. However, this one case is different, so very different. As the bus pulls up to the curb and she assumes her position on the sidewalk, her mental state is clear. She takes a deep breath, pushes back her shoulders ever so silently and straightens her spine as if to encapsulate a confidence she desperately needs. She has to defend her client, her personal opinions are irrelevant here, and she will do so, ruthlessly if need be. As she steps onto the awaiting bus, an icy cold gust of wind catches the nape of her neck and back as if temporarily pushing her off balance. This is, of course, a literal metaphor. Viewed from the outside, her posture visibly changes as she walks toward the back of the bus, her steps now slow and deliberate. The swirling grey mist undulates around her as if breathing in time with her form; she inhales it and exhales her. She inevitably seats herself at the back of the bus and looks, glassy-eyed out the window as if her entire life has been vacated from existence.
For all practical purposes, it has.
As will everything else.
Her grandson lies cradled in the arms of her sleeping husband, and the two lay enveloped in the ancient porch chair. Seated across from them, she lays down her book and places an old and worn hand upon it. Gently tapping it with her fingertips, she allows warm visions and memories to fill her mind. That chilly spring day when they first met, the rainy summer day when they met again after the war, the first time she knew he loved her. Each memory held together a lifetime. Her hand carelessly caresses the smooth book cover as more memories fill her thoughts, and the light wind plays lazily over her face. Soon her breath slows as deep sleep etches itself on her face.
As I look up from those on the porch and cast my gaze out over the green expanse, I see it. The translucent orbs that advance en masse towards them, appearing as a grey mist. The same entities the Old Woman had previously warned me about are stretching their way towards the porch. The grandmother’s happy memories filled with love and strength must have drawn them to her. I stand, for want of a better term, alone as the mist quickly draws near.
I watch as her grandson stirs.
First, he looks to his grandfather. Satisfied that he is soundly asleep, the small boy adeptly slides off the old man’s lap and walks toward his grandmother. He places his head quietly over her sleeping face, his eyes within inches of her mouth as his face contorts to an expression unlike anything I have ever seen; an unnatural twisting of features as to make him unrecognizable as human. He rises, content with himself and coming events, and turns towards the porch steps. Standing still and straight on the topmost step, he lifts both hands from his sides to shoulder height and waits for the mist to arrive.
Even though she woke on time, there was always so much to do before she went to work that every minute carried more weight than it should. Her son’s lunch, having been prepared the evening before, lay ignored on the kitchen counter as she alerted him yet again of the time. Her eldest daughter, although awake, had not yet appeared and, if the past were any indicator, she wouldn’t until her mother was hoarse from screaming. Every morning was the same. If only she could leave on time for once, she would avoid most of the traffic and not arrive at her desk frazzled, she thought to herself. Yet, this morning would be very different.
As I watched the mist slowly slide in through the doors, windows, and ceilings, the family moaned and complained as they did every morning. It seeped its way over the furniture and fixtures as the family gathered together and loudly left. Within minutes, the mist covered everything in the house like an invisible festering mold, awaiting the family’s return and completely unseen by the human eye.
Of course, I saw it, but I could do nothing about it.
Or so I thought.
The rock music blared from the SUV’s radio as the trio danced wildly in their seats. The driver, having just gulped a large portion of the alcohol from its soda bottle disguise, sang or rather screamed a distorted version of the song while driving much too fast. It always amazed me, in my human form, that teenagers were capable of multitasking at times like this but not while doing chores.
Apparently, it amazes me in this form as well.
The car gyrated in forward motion echoing the chaos within as it approached the still mist that hung suspended like a curtain over the roadway ahead. No occupant saw it as they continued in their excess. Usually, passing through a light white mist is akin to driving through a cloud where the visibility ends at some point external to you. This mist was a multilayered membrane where, from my planar advantage, I saw grey orbs, translucent and grey whirlpools, quivering open circles and lines, elements that snaked through the membrane many times, and particles joined to form larger elements that folded onto itself as I was squeezed and stretched throughout all in an instant. This dynamic membranous cloud didn’t evaporate as we drove through, as a typical mist would. It remained unchanged as we physically traveled through it.
Once on the other side, the SUV continued until it didn’t.
For the occupants, nothing would ever be the same again.