An Apology

I’m sorry.

I just wanted to let someone know that, despite what history may make of me, I am sorry for what I have become, and for the things that I have done on my way to being what I am today. As I stand here at this cross roads with the moon making long and eerie the shadows around my feet, I feel remorse for my past, and for the future into which I am about to embark. The backpack I hold contains the lives of over a hundred men, women, and children whom I have taken out of greed and fear to use for my own ends.

When I was about thirteen I lived with my mother and father on a hill in the forest. Our house overlooked the valley my parents owned. Frequently the fog would pool in the valley, but sometimes it would also surround the house and I remember looking out and seeing the fog so thick the shed not fifty feet from the window of my room was invisible behind the wall of mist. It felt like magic. It felt like there was power, just out of sight within the fog. Like things walked out there where they knew no one could see. When fog overflowed from the valley, I was both afraid and inspired.

I found myself wanting something I couldn’t quite explain to myself. Something mysterious. I wanted to be more than what I was, and my spirit hungered for whatever it was.

I began to have dreams of waking up lying on moss covered rocks deep in the forest of the valley. Sometimes I would dream of waking and looking out to see sunlight drifting eerily through the fog, and there would be whispering… such strange and horrible whispers. It sounded like… radio static? Or like something echoing up from the darkness of a well? I could never quite make out what it was saying, but I knew it was talking directly to me.

Other nights I would dream of waking on those same rocks in the dark. I could feel the fog around me, and the rocks below me, but I could see nothing in the pitch black of the midnight hour deep in the forest of the valley. I could hear things moving around just out of arms reach. Sometimes it sounded like it had four legs, and sometimes it sounded like more. In the dreams I was terrified it was going to make some animal noise, but it scared me more that they didn’t. I could feel them glaring at me, but they made no sound beyond the occasional sound of their steps or scurrying.

When the dreams first started I struggled not to sleep, I kept myself awake talking to my brother but he often wanted to sleep at night and I inevitably had to follow the biological imperative to sleep as well. I claimed to not remember my dreams most of the time, or I made up other dreams to tell. I could sense even as a child that there was something wrong about dreaming as I did, though I didn’t yet know why or what was wrong with it.

Eventually, the dreams started to subside, but then I was faced with the horrors of daymares. I would have episodes in which I could feel this unspeakable fear spreading through me, and my minds eye could see animals that were somehow wrong. Usually but not exclusively happening when I was alone, I started to see them. A stag that glared, sometimes in through windows or doors, or stood elsewhere just out of sight. A kitten, blood dribbling out from it’s mouth, it’s legs moved like they were broken, or like they weren’t legs at all, but little tentacles shaped like legs and the kitten shook and I could sense it hating me. A brown emaciated dog with it’s stomach cut open and it’s organs dangling and dragging as it pulled itself along hauling an evidently worthless set of rear legs. The animals that I had not been able to see when I dreamed that it was night in the valley began to appear to me when I was awake. Never visible to my eyes, but perfectly clear to my mind’s eye to the extent that I couldn’t breath, and my eyes would weep in fear. The fear from them didn’t feel like fear of being hurt, more like the wiring in my brain was failing me. It felt like the part in my brain that felt normal fear was short circuiting and I often found myself to horrified to move when I was alone, even when sunlight poured in through the house’s windows, outside all I could see was clouds, moonlight, and horror.

Later, when I was around 23, I found myself often returning in my dreams to the valley. The daymares still plagued me when I was alone, but I had learned to live with them and decided that I couldn’t let myself live in fear of being in fear. The valley was exactly as it had ever been, and I found myself listening intently to the undecipherable whispers from whatever lived in the fog. I couldn’t understand it, but I felt like some other mind inside of me to which my waking mind had no access did understand, and was terrified and fascinated by what the fog was telling me, so I listened though I could not really understand.

A few weeks ago, when I turned 25, the dreams changed. I awoke on the dream rock in the mist of the forest as I ever had, but there was nothing in the fog. I felt no presence, and heard no voice. I simply waited on the rock the first time it happened for what felt like hours. Eventually I woke up, but when I did I was shocked to find myself in my girlfriends car speeding down the interstate. I narrowly avoided a high speed crash and pulled over on the shoulder in confusion. I figured out where I was and drove home to find her telling police that someone must have kidnapped or killed me and stolen the car. I told her I had just wanted to go for a drive, and went back in the house. I took a shower feeling uneasy, but afterward when I went to brush my teeth what I saw in the mirror shocked me so badly I actually lost consciousness.

No sooner had I passed out than I found myself in the valley again. The mist was quiet and still, and I sat on the rock listening for a long time. The sun set and the valley began to get dark, which shocked me. It had never before changed from day to night while watched. I was afraid of what I knew was coming, but in the end the sounds of movement in the darkness never came. After a long sleepless night, the sun rose again. I spent twelve such days sitting on the rock waiting. I didn’t grow weary or hungry, but just sat growing ever more bored without anyone to talk to, but I still didn’t get off the rock. Something in me knew I must stay on the rock.

When I eventually awoke again to the real world I was walking down the side of a road in Arizona. I was very groggy and had something in my hand. When I looked, I was surprised to find a bottle of prescription sleeping pills in my right hand. In my left, I found that I had been about to take three of the take one after dinner sleeping pills. At first I was badly confused. My mind was foggy and I didn’t know where I was or how I got there. I had my backpack with me, and I was dressed haphazardly, with no consideration to how it looked. In my pocket I found the gear shift from my girlfriend’s car, which I had evidently broken off and brought with me. I stashed the three pills and walked down the road for a long time, but never saw any buildings or vehicles, or anything that might be helpful.

I got hungry and decided to check my bag in case I had thought to pack food. When I swung the bag off my back I found the bottom was wet with blood. Inside, there were countless chunks of delicious looking raw and bleeding meat, so I took one out and ate it. Later, two things occurred to me. Chunks of raw bloody meat should not look delicious, and when you don’t know where you are and you wake up with a backpack filled with meat you should question what kind of meat you have before you eat any. I was hungry though, and somehow it seemed perfectly reasonable that I should have a backpack full of food. I sat down on the side of the road and set about eating my fill, and the meat tasted great. I could feel something watching me approvingly.

I finally saw a car coming but I was not concerned. I no longer needed assistance, so I decided to ignore the car and keep eating. As fate would have it, it was a police car and they stopped to investigate someone sitting on the side of the road eating meat out of a backpack. They asked what I was doing out here through their window without getting out of the car. I tried to reply, but my throat wouldn’t open to speak. Instead, all I could produce was some kind of a grunt.

They got out of the squad car guns drawn. I wasn’t afraid though, I just looked back at them calmly. They demanded loudly I get on the ground but I shrugged and kept eating. One of them came over and grabbed me and put me face down in the gravel and hand cuffed me. He lifted me and put me in their car, and they put my backpack in the front with them. That was okay, I’d had my fill anyway. I was full and somehow content despite being vaguely aware that I was under arrest for something. I was warm and full and had been walking for a long time so I decided that the squad car would be a good place for a nap.

When I woke again I was in the drivers seat of the squad car. I was sober again, and the car wasn’t moving. I got out and found myself standing here at this cross walk, and knew that I needed to wait here, though I don’t know for what exactly it is that I wait.

I know that something will be coming that will kill me if I don’t have this bag of meat and blood with me. Something that will come shrouded in darkness thick enough to blot out the moonlight. I will give it the remaining contents, and it will smile and leave, and when I wake in the morning I’m going to be somewhere down the road. I know that things are going to go on like this for a long time and no one can rescue me. I know it’s going to be painful, and terrifying, and will last for the rest of my days. Beyond that, I don’t know.

“It was deliciously creepy and very well written!”
Monique HappyManaging Editor of Phantasm Books

“Wonderfully creepy.”
Clay Heldauthor of American Magic: The Book of Light