I have been sitting in my chair for an unknown number of hours, looking at a particular spot across the street. I can remember seeing the sun go down behind the old red roofs of the houses across the street, and I watched patiently as the darkness engulfed the silhouettes of those structures. I have also noticed during this period of idle staring, that the presence of people in the street has ceased completely. I can only remember blurred figures or shapes that disappeared from my field of vision never to return. The stars are now visible in the night sky and the only evidence that there once was a sun, is the ever diminishing amber light emanating from behind the houses in the lower part of my field of vision.
Had I been a spectator to my situation, the only thing I would have been able to see from outside my open window, would be the grotesque shape of my face, illuminated by the sickly greenish light from my computer monitor. I have been trying for some time, to put my nebulous thoughts into some form of tangible or virtual shape. My intention all along was to write them down, if possible, but how can I put down in writing which I cannot comprehend?
My attention becomes, again, oriented towards that particular spot which has been under my surveillance. The darkened human figure standing on the corner under that flickering street lamp. It appears and disappears in intermittent intervals as the light on the streetlamp fails over and over again. I assume he or she has been standing there for hours, the exact amount of time is unknown to me, as I have lost perspective on the amounts of hours I have been sitting here staring at it. The anthropomorphous shape has a disconcerting stillness to it. An extra dimensional texture and primordial immobility to it, that I can sense in my skin, even if meters of concrete, ether, steel and glass separate us. I feel a remarkable closeness to it. But is is not the shape’s unique peculiarities that disconcert me the most, but rather, the corrosive familiarity which the extraordinary figures that the entity’s shadow is making on the wall behind her evoke in me. Those are shadows with an elegant vividity, the lifelike movements of those things that should not exist.. Shadows that change shape, even though neither the figure or the light above it, are moving.
I am thus, a spectator to an unnatural and hypnotizing event which I cannot explain. Yet I fail to fall back to my most primordial human feelings of fear, of flight or fight. I have, as already explained, just been sitting here, looking at the changing shadows. I am resigned to be a spectator to their unnatural existence.
But this is just one of several similar situations which I have encountered lately.
I try to remember the first time I felt such an uncanny connection to unexplainable hypnotizing phenomena. It all started, if I recall correctly, that one day I was walking home from work. I walked the usual route that goes along a construction site, a tram stop and a park. It was a sunny, early summer day in which I, as normal, walked with slumbering steps towards my abode. The walk was supposed to last the meticulously calculated forty minutes it usually lasts. The weather was fine, in the sense most people would appreciate it, as the sun was up high and scorched the pavement. Most people were walking in t-shirts and shorts. I, unfortunately, have never enjoyed such pleasantries as I have to adhere to a strict dress-code at the company I work at. My shirt stuck to my body as a consequence of me perspirating profusely and I felt a particularly nasty odor emanate from under the half buttoned collar of my shirt. I could not quite put my finger on it but I remember it smelled like an amalgam of deodorant, fear and sweat. My skin felt greasy as the gel from my hair, melted and dripped on my face under the merciless sun, and I could feel that tingly feeling of itch on both sides of my head as the slippery plastic frame on my glasses, lubricated by the sweat and hair gel, fell on the bridge of my stuffy nose. Under this situation, which I remember was highly unpleasant, I had to walk for thirty five more minutes.
In order to numb myself from the physical discomfort, I listened to a long classical piece on my headphones. This usually helped me cope from the general uncomfortability of having to walk among other humans. It has never been easy for me to walk among people as I often fear that my internal discomfort will show in my face and people may think bad things about me. Things with regard to my evasive eyes and shy demeanor.
Because of this I longed for the relief and the shelter from both humans and the perpetual vehicular noise, that I could find once I crossed that beautiful holy threshold between the paved street and the graveled road that took me towards the park. The longer I walked the less the sound of the street became and the more I could enjoy the classical music piece that was ringing in my ears. As my heart no longer raced, I could finally become one with my discomfort. I enjoyed the gleeful shade from the maple and pine trees that flanked the deserted gravelled path. Once my hot and sore feet found the cemented road which I followed across the park, I tried to ignore the presence of the few other human beings in the park, as much as possible. It was not possible to ignore however, that white silhouette that crossed the sky elegantly towards a man made lagoon, of which I could only see a portion of from my position in the cemented path. My eyes followed the white silhouette and I saw that it was a stork or swan. The animal then landed with a splash in that brownish-green lagoon. For a moment I stopped and looked at it and I found comfort. The comfort was even greater than the one that emanated from the music in my rears and in that exact moment I forgot my troubles. It was comfort in the fact that living beings could continue to live in a patch of flooded earth, in which pure and primal life existed. Life that was not aware.
It was then that I decided to make a break from my normal routine to closely inspect the lagoon which I had never noticed before, even though I had walked the park, and that specific cemented path for years, in winter and summer. My feet crushed the grass as I in one hand held my briefcase and with the other held my suit jacket, and walked briskly towards the lagoon. The air was filled with pollen and that somewhat choking humidity that can be experienced during summertime in highly vegetated areas. I found a spot in which there was another gravelled path and to one side it had a fence, that I assumed, had been placed there by landscapers who wanted people like me, to enjoy a fabulous vista. The lagoon sprawled in front of me in all its vastness and engineered wilderness. The waters were cloudy and green. Crooked trees laden with green leafs surrounded the lagoon and some of them were so bent that the leafs almost touched the surface of the water. I stood there motionless with my hands on that low fence. Watching the aquatic birds make their elegant motions around the water, some of them flying, others, swimming around and dipping their small heads into the dark water looking for food. It was, during those brief moments of placid reflection that the first changes started to appear. For some reason, after staring at the magnificent primordial vista for some minutes, I noticed a slight change in the textures of the objects I was contemplating. The vista had changed in essence, it had changed in nature. The trees stood motionless, even though the shadows they reflected in the water changed into different shapes. The birds did no longer seem like birds but their existential context had disappeared. They looked out of place and their form suggested of some other primordial winged animal, which did not exist or had ever existed in recorded history. The water became transparent, but what I saw was not an immaculate sand bottom in which the sun reflected the gracious dance of coral or algae. What I saw was a bottomless pit of some putrescent black liquid, its consistency could be compared to that of crude oil, from which thousands of small glimmering eyes shined like stars in some grotesque constellation. It was then, perhaps as a consequence of the complete change in the essence of the vista I was contemplating, that the music in my ears changed also. It was no longer a tune that I recognized, but rather a music which seemed to have been hidden deep in my subconscious. A music which I had known to have in my memory, but that I did not have any recollection of. The notes were marching towards a crescendo in which drums, flutes and some other string ensemble played in dissonant scales I did not even know existed.
In hindsight it was a fitting melody for the events that later unfolded. Because as I slowly adjusted myself to this morbid and grotesque version of the world, I saw that there started to appear, trembling protrusions from the black waters of the hellish lagoon. The protrusions seemed to dissolve at the contact with the surface, and beneath the gentle waves of the lagoon, several oblong boxes made of wood started to appear. The boxes rested gently on the surface rocking back and forth on top of the small waves of the lagoon. I would not lie if I said that those boxes did not look exactly like coffins, and that their wooden textures looked bloated by water and crustaceous crusts covered them in different places. The vista itself, the blackened lagoon, the glistening white eyes staring at me from the bottom, the primordial devil-birds and the coffins that floated in the putrescent waters, did not for a single moment unsettle me. The reason for it, I have later found out, when reflecting upon this particular episode, is that the imagery was certainly real, but it was a reality without its protective membrane, it was the dreamlike reality which is hidden from plain sight and underdeveloped senses. I understood its message and its honesty, because the lagoon and its surroundings were speaking to me in that cryptic dream-language, which is a language not made with words, but made by a combination of senses. Sight, touch, smell and sound all combined to convene a message which is read with the fibre of your body, and understood at a molecular level. It did not upset me, because I have vague memories of a past further behind in time and space in which I cried and prayed for looking at reality uncovered, a reality that was honest. I did not flinch, neither did I run or scream, once I saw that the coffins floating on the surface of the lagoon, suddenly started to open themselves. From under the wooden and crusted lids, black hands appeared which belonged to black shadows of rotten matter. Neither did I lose my mind when those same rotten ghouls walked towards me, with clumsy steps that touched the blackened waters as if they were made of pure solid rock. They walked towards me. And I understood their message.
As quickly as these terrible visions came to life, they quickly dissolved into nothingness. The normal spirit and context in which everything exists returned to its displeasurable normalcy. The lagoon became the lagoon it had always been, and the swans and storks returned to their normal dimensional texture. The music too, returned to its normal tune, although at a later place in the track. I looked at my hands and feet, I touched my face. It was all there, greasy and sweaty as it had always been. But something in me had changed.
Orthodox reality now had a different feeling to it. I resumed my walk home. I offered a couple of glances at the joggers and ice-cream vendors in the park. I looked at the tourists and could not help but to feel that their appearance was not what it was. The sky was not blue, and the clouds were not white, neither were the trees and foliage green. Everything had a terrible dishonest look to it, as if nature itself strained on maintaining an appearance of normalcy, suggesting an idea of calmness and hiding, behind flashy colors and smiling faces, a reality of horror and chaos.
The strangeness of the world around me did not change, and the strange phenomena did not cease. I remember that later that day, I was idly sitting on my couch in my spartan livingroom. The only illumination in my home was the diluted light coming from my TV. I would also assume that the reflection of the TV on my thick glasses would have given me the ghastly appearance of a ghoul with big and bright blue eyes. Besides from the TV, the light from the street barely illuminated my living room, and a slight sensation of horror crept on me, once I glanced at my walls, and noticed the strange moving shadows that were created. They too, danced with a primordial vividity, a terrible sensation of life and animation where it should not exist.
I grabbed the remote control and aimlessly zapped through the channels. It showed Infomercials and TV-shows with no meaning or context to them, depthless and dimensionless, where people danced and spoke in a language which I could only understand fragments from. I remember that suddenly, I stopped at what looked like a familiar image. It showed stock footage from that park in which I had been to so many times and that was part of my daily commute. More specifically, the stock footage showed that same park in which I had experienced those sobering “hallucinations”, for lack of a better word. I saw that the TV-reporter looked very confused and scared. Behind her, I saw what looked like ambulances, firefighters and police cars. I saw the faces of the rescue workers looking incredibly scared as if faced by a catastrophe that they did not understand. However not a single visible victim could be seen, and behind the police cars, and ambulances, where there should have been at least the darkened green figures of the trees, silhouetted against the black night, there was nothing. Not a single tree, not a single star, everybody was staring at pure blackness. I unmuted the TV and heard what only was a few fragments of speech, intermittent and interrupted by insane mumbling which I could not decipher, everything coming from the gaping hole in the TV-reporter’s face.
“Police have cordoned off the area...gluuutgh fthagn...where the unknown winged creatures were last seen….hjklooorgh...splurgh….dissapearances….probably dead….(static)...Black liquid oozing to the streets….highly toxic”
I muted the TV. Then, realizing that nothing coming from that little electronic box would actually give me anything of real value, I shut it off. I rose up from the couch and walked then, in the darkness towards my kitchen, almost stubbing my toe against a table. I opened up one of my windows. The fresh cool air hit me in the face, and I could smell the night. I noticed a sweetish smell in the air of natural decay, the type of smell of rotting wood and stagnant water that you might find when walking through a marsh. I strained myself to look down the street in the direction of the park, and I could hear the distant squealing sounds of sirens and screams. I also believe that I heard muffled gunshots. But what amazed me the most, was that gigantic black mushroom cloud that rose from where the park was. It was a cloud made of a dark haze, black as night, darker than the universe. It rose up towards the night sky, and intermittent flashes of white lighting would appear sometimes. It looked like pictures of an erupting volcano that I had seen in an encyclopedia. Every time the white lightning flashes would make their appearance, I could see the terrible ghoulish faces that the dark haze would form. It was shapes of unnatural creatures of depraved and unnerving nature, some of them anthropomorphic and highly decadent in shape, others in the shape of animals, a dog, a pig, or a squid. The cloud was growing, and the darkness was coming towards us, slowly, very slowly.
I looked towards the houses on the opposite side of the street. I saw my neighbours crying, some of them taking pictures, some of the down in the streets stood with binoculars looking at this strange phenomenon, unparallelled in human history, and certainly, unparalleled in its grotesqueness.
After some minutes I went to sleep. I had seen this before. It all looked so uncannily familiar.
Right now, the shape across the street under that intermittent light has yet not moved. But the shadows it makes are growing ever larger, consuming more and more of the environment around them. I find it increasingly difficult to concentrate as some perverse sense of curiosity keeps directing my eyes towards it. Fortunately, the rest of my memories and thoughts about what happened after that night are freshly engraved in my mind.
I woke up to the shrill sound of my alarm. I turned on the TV just to see the follow-up to yesterday's events. I was fueled, I suppose by that perverse desire for everything to go completely to hell, in the societal collapse, type of hell. I would lie if I said I was not happy when I saw that the only channel that was on was the government’s emergency station. It showed a message regarding staying at home and waiting for further instructions. It was written in white letters on a black background, for some reason I understood the meaning of the text, although it looked in parts as if written in some strange language, the text was in parts written with weird and dissonant hieroglyphs. When I turned the sound up I noticed that the tuned that was playing in the background was our national anthem, but it sounded so absurd and hollow, the notes would go up and down maintaining their essential melodic structure but also combined with strange octaves and squeals. I paid no mind to it as it all was terribly and horrifyingly familiar.
I did not go outside. Because I knew what I would see.
I have been sitting here on my little study in front of my computer for an unknown number of hours. My eyes have been shifting from my computer to that shape under the streetlight. I know that the phantasmagorical shapes I have seen throughout the day were not people. They ceased to exist during the night. The shapes were, something different. They were us, but without our cloak. They are like us, they exist, oblivious to their purpose and dance clumsily around in darkened alleys and abysses of utter chaos in the cosmos. There are strange figures in the sky now. Winged and vile animals, I cannot see them clearly but they are diving like seagulls in the sea, looking for prey. It is getting increasingly difficult to write. The shape under the streetlight and the shadows emanating from it, they are all over the street now, they are dancing to the tune of time with a primal and imbecile life force. I can clearly see the liquid black ooze spreading from the shape under that single idiotic streetlamp. The ooze is also dripping from my window now, it is glimmering in the amber red light of the twilight. In its blackness, there are small shiny eyes looking at me. Looking at this, looking at this new reality.
I know I should be afraid, as I see the black viscous liquid climb up my desk and up towards my legs, but deep inside, I know that a time long ago I prayed, and cried myself to sleep, wishing for this reality, a true reality.