A Parting Gift

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Sing Along Switcheroo

“Sleep.” Whispered a gravelly voice. It was the voice of the trucker. Not again. He thought, panic trying to get a foothold. No more dreams, please, no more!

“The last dream.” Insisted the voice. “You sleep, I play.” It told him.

“No! I won’t sleep!” He protested, terrified by what might come next.

“Then see. I am you and you are me.” It croaked back and as it did so, Brian’s sight began to return. His vision gradually came into focus, but it seemed distant, like a TV screen floating at the end of a dark tunnel. The image grew closer and clearer. It was his apartment all right as seen from his own eyes, but somehow detached. He was clearly no longer the master of his body. Brian gaped in stunned disbelief as he witnessed himself violently clearing shelves and tearing down wall hangings. Drawers were pulled out, their contents scattered throughout the room in a vigorous swings. His dumbbells found their way into both his TV and his computer monitor. Brian’s only two dining chairs crashed through the living room windows, one right after the other. Glass, broken wood and twisted blinds spilled onto the walkway outside.

That’s not me . . ., He thought, despairingly. If something was controlling his body, where was he now? He couldn’t feel his body at all, only an all encompassing cold. His gaze darted away from the destruction on the floating screen, down at himself, willing a movement from any body part. As if in response, his right arm floated up before him. Brian tried to scream, but heard only a muffled wheeze. The corpselike flesh he now inhabited hung grey and mutilated in vast emptiness. His twisted right arm was rotten, the half mummified meat practically hanging off the bone. Nevertheless, it moved to his will. The inhuman, three fingered claw on the end of it slowly opened and closed. The left arm and everything below the ribcage was gone. He could see the spine and a braid of rotten entrails slowly writhing below like a snake under water. Too shocked to panic, he glanced back up to see what the fiend in his body was doing now. In less than a minute his apartment looked like the victim of The Tasmanian Devil on meth. It didn’t look like a single piece of furniture or appliance had been spared. Condiments, leftovers and pantry mixes alike decorated everything. It was panting hard, but when considering what it had just done; his body should have been passing out from exhaustion. Either Brian had greatly underestimated his physical potential or the possessor made him nearly superhuman.

Suddenly the view shifted to corner of the kitchen it had overlooked in its fury. Brian saw what it saw, knowing well what would happen next.

No!

He watched in horror as whatever force had control of his body, snatched a big kitchen knife from the wooden block and strode purposefully towards the apartment entry.

No! Stop!

He tried to yell, focusing hard on the words, desperately trying to regain mastery over his own body.

I command you!

It paused momentarily and Brian felt a stirring of hope. The thing controlling his body hesitated and turned around.

I’m doing it! He thought triumphantly, I got you, you bastard . . .

He watched himself approach the broken remains of the computer tower, reach down and snatch the flash drive. The thing made him pocket the item and then turn to leave the apartment once more. Despite the cast on his arm, the kitchen knife was grasped firmly in his left hand, blade facing up. Sirens could be heard in the background, growing louder.

It threw open the door, surprising the hell out of Gary, from 4A, who was on his way out to Circle K for another Sparks and a handful of lottery tickets. Judging by Gary’s expression and the scream that followed, he had guessed what the underwear clad maniac with the knife from 5A had in mind.

“B-Brian? Whadda, whadda fu. . .” Gary stammered, unable to move. Brian watched helplessly as his good hand suddenly launched out and grabbed Gary by the hair, yanking him close. In the same moment, the other hand brought the blade up, right under Gary’s chin. In one swift, effortless motion, Gary’s throat was opened ear to ear spraying crimson like a busted water pipe. Another gesture sent his body over the railing like a ragdoll.

Old Miss Harrington from 6A had been half up the stairs holding her fat tabby when Gary from 4A bounced off the soda machine to her left. When she looked up to see who she thought was Brian coming down the satirs, her eyes went wide behind her bifocals and she opened her mouth to scream. Brian’s kitchen knife shoved through her dentures to bury itself up to the hilt in her face, the blade protruding a hands length from the back of her neck. Her scream was reduced to little more than a gurgling croak as she tumbled backwards. The cat in her arms, made the slightest of audible protests and leaped the remaining few feet to the landing, disgruntled at not having been carried the whole way. Whether ignorant or indifferent to her owner’s bloody demise, she padded over to 6A and meowed expectantly, looking on with bored, aloof eyes. Miss Harrington had gone over a second time before finally laying still in a gaudy, over perfumed heap, at the bottom of the steps. Brian watched in astonishment as his body jumped the distance of the stairway and landed next to her in a single pounce. Upon impact, he thought he heard something like a branch snapping. Screams and shouts were now coming from all around. He watched his left hand as it made an attempt to retrieve the knife, but the fingers wouldn’t close around the handle. With the cast broken and hanging in pieces, his wrist flopped about loosely. Using Brian’s right hand instead, it grabbed the knife from Miss Harrington’s mouth and leered about hungrily, searching for more prey. The volume of the sirens reached an ear splitting climax and then dropped with a “Bwooop” as the vehicle’s tires screeched to a halt. He could hear several car doors slamming shut, with as many men shouting several contradictory demands at once.

“Don’t move!”

“Drop the knife!”

“Hands on your head!”

“I said drop it!”

“Down! On the ground! Now!”

“Don’t make a move!”

Oh no, no no, please God no. . . He prayed for the first time as an adult. If his body was killed, he could never go back. The irreversibility of his situation had never occurred to him before. As if to clarify his thoughts, his possessed body sprang at the officers. The lunge was awkward however, as it stumbled left of the intended target, fumbling on Brian’s newly broken ankle. The deafening shots of the semi- autos echoed off the courtyard walls. Brian counted seven in all, but his body was still moving. It was getting up, looking towards the police. The knife was gone, but it held something in Brian’s right hand that he couldn’t see. As it jerked his body up onto one leg, it thrust the object up to them like an offering. The officers did not hesitate. They unloaded their pistols into the thing that had been Brian. The sound of the gunfire and the vision of the carnage blew out like a candle flame, leaving Brian floating alone in dark, cold nothingness, trapped in the remains of an undead abomination. He tried to cry, tried to scream, but the only noise he could manage sounded like the crumpling dry leaves. He frantically tried to tear at his own face, but his one arm was slow and weak, producing little more than a few pathetic petting motions. It was then he caught motion out of the corner of his eye. A brief flutter of hope gripped him; perhaps he was not alone. There was something else coming out of the blackness, round shapes. Heads.

There were three of them at first, each more monstrous and decayed than the previous. Brian didn’t think they had ever been human. What still remained of the saggy, fogged over orbs that had once been eyes, stared at Brian without expression. The creatures’ hideous maws hung open; the few shark-like teeth they had, stuck out in all directions. The third one’s lower jaw was hardly attached at all. Adding to his increasing horror, the trio floated towards him, mouths moving, harsh guttural sounds issuing from them. They were chanting. Kauneer Nur Kaelu Ayea Neusecrah . . Despite his compromised voice, the urge to join in the sing along was overwhelming. Why not? He knew the words, after all.


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