|Who Am I|
Running through an impossibly tall alley comprised of crumbling, grey brick walls while attempting to keep ahead of a sickly citrine fog lapping at one’s heels is bad enough. Doing so amidst the agonizing death shrieks of nameless people whilst their blood and entrails soak your back, tangle your ragged clothes and squelch between your toes is worse. All of this without any idea of what stalks within the tenebrous miasma, without a target, lacking any concept of your stalker’s capabilities, is justifiably a situation to flee.
If you prefer, a tactical advance away from the enemy.
I run at a steady ground-eating pace as my feet propel me ahead of the capering mists which engulf those that trip and stumble to either flank, or fall on fear distorted faces.
A massive man with ropy sinews, a milky left eye and a shaved head turns atop a rubble pile bearing the expression of a warrior that has had quite enough of running.
“Why die tired?”
The urine soiling his ragged trousers belies his fear as a massive maul fills his meaty fists from nowhere.
Where was he carrying that? How is it that these rubble piles crop up at the worst possible moment?
The fog lashes about him as I pound past him towards another fork.
Always go left. They always expect you to go right, so I go left.
A slender woman wearing filthy tattered rags, her unkempt black hair spreads in the air as she goes right. Her ragged breathing does not hold much hope for her survival. For now, she runs, faster than I.
A gangly pale man hobbles along as best he can behind her, his side hitching from the long flight from slaughter, cramps beginning to set in his scrawny legs.
A surreal echoing cackle booms within the mists behind me. A spare glance as the big man disappears into the fog. A wave of air is heard as he swings in time with a croaking roar from his parched throat. Bricks shatter from the wild, powerful blow.
Then he shrieks within that damned fog. The lingering scream that obtains the higher octaves only heard from those dying slower than they wished. Blood, innards and limbs spray impossibly far past me as I reach the intersection to bear left.
Each intersection slows my pace down before I pick up speed once more along the straightaways. That awful cloud chases us all. A quick glance behind and all I see is his spleen fall from my shoulder. The fog is not as thick, the footfalls of pursuit tauntingly change from perhaps five paces behind to as many as twenty without rhyme or reason.
Another split, curving uphill to the left, downhill to the right, grey bricks towering to either side. Nowhere to go but onward, left along the uphill curve.
Raggedly breathing, the slender woman with the dark hair pounds up the slope from my right wearing an expression of frustration and anger. She yanks the silver symbol from the leather cord on her neck, as if just now remembering she has it.
The skinny pale fellow a few yards past her staggers from the mists, inexplicably producing a hand-and-a-half blade, slightly curved with blood grooves. The steel would gleam in brighter light. Gasping and panting, he reaches out with his left hand to steady himself against the alley.
The fog lashes out all about him, the last thing we see is his expression - regret. The blade begins to rise as he begins to turn to face the unknown lurker. Then nothing, for an eternal few seconds.
Glurk! A rattling inhalation, then what sounds like a waterfall soaks both myself and the slender woman in another impossible deluge of gore, entrails and dismembering appendages, the curved blade clattering across the cobblestones with the man’s right hand holding it in a death grip.
Transfixed, the gore trickles down the slender woman’s back. I blink the blood from my eyes.
“Me” spells itself out on her back.
The slender woman raises her silver symbol and shrieks at the yellow mist with its suspended particles of blood. “Begone, abomination!” A silvery pulse of silent light, weak in the red-purple-black light from the sky above, lashes all about her and into the fog.
Glancing down at the curved blade, it spins about, somehow dancing across the cobblestones and spelling out another word.
“Up” scrawls across the pavers.
A nightmare, not real, yet real enough to kill. Time to go!
Taking in a deep breath, the scent is strangely reminiscent of “home”, though at the moment I know not why whilst my tactical advance away from the Thing in the Fog continues.
“Where are you go ... Hell, wait up!” The slender woman turns to follow. I’m not waiting. We ascend the curved path up the hill, acutely aware of how such a slope slows us down. A dead end looms about us.
“Search for a hidden door, quickly!” She turns once more to face the mists that continue to sprinkle blood in a macabre shower while I pace along the perimeter, confident. I finally realize that she is taller than I am by at least a foot.
The fog waits for no one. The tendrils pursue, then overtake us as my search about the circumference of the dead end continues. As the mist thickens, noise dampens and sight begins to be obscured. Rustling noises precede four lengths of flesh-like fabric that lash out from the fog behind us, wrapping about the woman’s limbs and pulling her to the ground. She screams in both fear and anger, her fist firmly clamped about her silver trinket. The first strap is about that same arm, flexing with inhuman strength as it effortlessly snaps her forearm in half. The other straps repeat the process before dragging her broken form shrieking into the mist behind me.
As she is jerked into the fog her blood streaks left behind somehow spells out “Save”. One letter for each sundered limb.
Me. Up. Save.
That makes no sense. Neither does this nightmare. Think!
Organs are flung at me from the mists as the bloody rain picks up its intensity, squilching as each one splats onto my chest. Blood pools into places it has no right going into from the outside.
Her heart, its final beats futilely attempting to continue its purpose.
Wake up, save me.
Her lungs, inflating and deflating as if the one they came from is still hyperventilating.
That has to be it.
The crunch of bone being rent asunder precedes the clattering of teeth on brick before the monster flings her brain at me.
“Next time we meet I’m going to rip a limb off and beat you death with it.”
Roaring at the monster within the fog, my senses open in the real world. The fog is gone, the crimson rain and our stalker vanishing with it.
Control your mind, <indecipherable>, or the leeches will assuredly command it for you. A voice from my past, but whose?