Red Bellied Brown

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Chapter 13: Home

By the time I got there I was ready to fall asleep. I collapsed on the couch and fell asleep immediately. An incessant melody disturbed my dreams waking me up. My phone had been ringing, I answered it not recognising the number.

‘A van is on the move,’ it said, ‘I’m trailing it now.’

‘Good good,’ I said having difficulty figuring out what was going on. Time and place had no meaning to me. As my eyes adjusted to the darkness the features of my room became clear. My head continued to ache. The very bones in face felt like they were trying to leap out of my skin. I clutched at my guts as they gave a sudden lurch.

I heard the front door being opened and the excited voice of my daughter shouting out daddy. She leapt into my arms and I gave her a tight squeeze. It was one of the few workdays that I arrived home earlier than my daughter. I always felt a little guilty that she was a latchkey kid. It didn’t seem to bother her though. She often had friends come round to play. We didn’t mind them running amok in the house on their own as long as they cleaned up after themselves. Sometimes the house was a mess but more often it was not. She pulled me off to the playroom I sat there playing make-believe with her favourite toys. She loved it the most when I re-enacted crime stories with her toys. As I told her one of the stories I became distracted by the sight of my hands. They seemed to be changing at that very moment. Hair grew out of them at an alarming pace while my nails went to sharp points.

‘Daddy,’ said my daughter, ‘you haven’t finished the story.’

I shook my head dismissing the tingling sensation running from my hands all the way up my arms past my neck. A crunching sound reached my ears setting me on edge.

‘Dad, the story,’ insisted my daughter. That crunching sound stopped. Somehow, that was more alarming. I strained my ears but could only pick up random noises you’d expect to hear in the suburbs during the day. Taking in a deep breath through my nose and mouth told me more than I could have imagined. I sniffed again surprised to find a whole landscape of smells. It was difficult to describe. Smells that were familiar to me took on a new quality as if I was right next to the cause of it. Except that all the smells within a certain radius of me vied for my attention. My marvelling in the new discovery was short lived as the aches of my body asserted themselves. Every bone in my body felt like it was rebelling against its musculature restrictions. I grunted in pain clutching at whichever pain was the most recent. What started as a simple release of pain through a grunt soon became an agonising scream.

’My daughter looked at me in terror. Every moment felt like a new pain was being inflicted on me just as I got used to the previous one. I stumbled away from the room bumping from wall to wall as I made my way to the medicine cabinet in the hopes painkillers would do something for the pain. I stopped moving when I saw the figure in the hood standing in front of me, smiling. The pain seemed to pause as I processed the information.

‘You!’ I shouted, though I knew not who exactly it was. The cultists had all become one entity to me so that this one may as well have been any of the ones I had encountered.

My daughter screamed bringing forth my paternal instincts. I started threatening them with violence if they touched my daughter. One had been behind me. He pinned my arms with surprising strength as the other one came forward with a syringe. The pain seemed to go away along with my sense of consciousness once the liquid had been injected into me. Soothing words came to me from far away. I tried to fight what was happening but my limbs felt unable to follow my orders. My will to fight quickly departed me as the transformation, for I assumed this is what it was, made it feel like I was taking far more blows than I was actually receiving. I was delicately taken out in their arms their calming voice always present. They placed me down in the van where another one of them hooked me up with a drip as if I was in an ambulance. The engine started as my phone rang making me laugh. It was probably the policeman ringing to tell me they had seen the cultists bringing a man into the van. The thought gave me a small measure of hope that it would be ok.

‘What do you want?’ I shouted although I could barely hear my own voice.

‘To welcome you,’ came the only reply.

I’m not ashamed to say that I began to sob as the situation overwhelmed me.

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