The Ring of Fylegt — Oct. 20/21, 2015

Read my first published novella, The Ring of Fylegt (Part I & II), via Shoggoth.net: Part One | Part Two.

As part three of The Ring of Fylegt has not seen the light of day on Shoggoth.net, nor do I know when (or if) it ever will. Part three can be found below. (Disclaimer: if Shoggoth.net ever does publish, or contacts me about, part three, I will gladly remove it from here.)

“That was only the first dream. Countless others filtered into my mind every night while I slept, each one becoming more ridiculous and terrifying than the last. But they all had one connection, that monster. In some way or another, it was in each dream, even if the dream was a pleasant one. I remember, this one time, I was fooling around with Jennifer Sweet, a vivacious model at the time, and there it was, leaning over us like a disapproving mother. Before it yanked her from me, and hung her by her neck with its black tentacle, I jumped out of bed and puked. It came to the point that after every dream, I would wake up sick to my stomach.

“A few months had past and I was growing curious about the thing, so I ventured into the libraries and random bookstores in the city, looking for any type of books that dealt with supernaturalism, demonology, urban legends, and really anything that could be connected to dreams. I didn’t find much on the monster specifically, but I did find a lot of information on things that were to it, in a book called Vieni Prieš Mus, which roughly meant, Ones Before Us. Originally, I later found out, it was written in Egyptian, then translated in a few different languages, like old Chinese, Greek, and Hebrew. I assumed it was a pretty old book.

“As the title was written in Lithuanian, so were its insides, but with the help of the librarian and a Lithuanian-to-English book, I ventured through its pages and what I found was astounding. Not to speak too much about it, but it contained several illustrations of deities that were worshiped at one time or another, pre-dating Lithuanian, Egyptian, and Nordic mythologies.

“Great beings with misshapen bodies, arms, legs, and even necks. Some of them were enormous, larger than a skyscraper. Others were so small that I don’t think we could ever see them. Some of them had small descriptions, like Ci’arab, a goddess with no outline that once protected Earth from meteors, or Uydian, a turtle-like god who lead the Tor and rules over In’pher. Others had limbs that seemed to weave in every direction, as if they had no sense of balance or physiology! But in some queer way, I believe now, that was normal for them, like it’s normal for us to have two feet, two arms, and one head.

“Anyway, I digress. I stumbled upon a page titled, “Tusen Synt Veiled, Fylegt” roughly translated to, “The Thousand Sighted Guide, Fylegt.” Below the title there was a large image of what haunted me, a massive being towering over some type of monolithic statue. It was as I described: muscular, two arms, thousands of tentacles, bulbous head, and two bulging eyes. Although the image was more detailed than my dreams, there was no color but the yellowed page it was on and the black ink used in the illustration.

“Each tentacle had wavy lines engraved in them, and small suction cups at the bottom, with tiny sharp teeth inside. And I was wrong before, there were no legs underneath the curtain of tentacles, but something much more unsettling. Attached to its underside was a black sphere, and in it was what I believed to be two concave eyes.

“The body, oh Chase, the body was the craziest thing of all. It was covered in slits, and beneath those were eyes, thousands of them. Varying in size, and shape, they covered from its wrists to its neck, and all over its back. The book didn’t say if they were all functional, but what fool would dare to find out?

“The last part I inspected as I made my way up the image was its head. I was wrong when I said there were two eyes, because they were simply two bulging heaps of flesh. Its entire head was just a lump of skin, the top part fatty, which made it appear bulbous, and the rest muscle.

“On the adjacent page of the illustration was another drawn picture. It was a ring, the exact one I purchased from that store that drunken night. Unfortunately there wasn’t anything written on the page, nor was there text on the backside of the paper, only the drawing of the ring. Dread filled me when I pulled the ring from my pocket and held it next to the picture.

“What I held in my hand was the exact ring, to a T. The weaving black lines, the tens of eyes as its center piece, and although the only color of the image was the yellowed paper, I could imagine the ring’s base was silver.

“I became sweaty and queasy sitting there, so I slammed the book closed, and shoved the ring back into my pocket. Then quickly made my way out of the library, nodding and thanking the young librarian as I departed.

“With the ring in my possession, and a crumpled up page filled with copied words about Fylegt in my hand, I hastily made my way home.”

Nathan drank from his tea and looked down to his hands. “I never heard of the deities, especially Fylegt, before reading that book, and in some unknown way, the Thousand Sighted Guide has cursed me ever since I bought that blasted ring. He haunts me when I’m awake, and when I’m asleep. With every passing night Chase, my dreams become more vivid, gruesome and terribly real.

“I can’t escape it, I’ve learned now. During the day, I can control it by filling my head with other things, like reading a book or listening to music. But in my slumber, it’s like the chains that bound it are broken, allowing it to run free, to consume and devour every non-waking moment of my life.

“I know, I sound like a lunatic. Rambling on about ancient gods and dreams, but it’s the truth. And sorry to say Chase, but this queer journey doesn’t stop there.”

VII

When I looked to my wristwatch it was three o’clock, and after a restroom break, I was back sitting on the couch. Looking around the room, I could see my half-filled open notebook on the table next to an empty cup, then peering at the room more closely, I realized how dingy it really was. Most of the walls had large gaping holes, covered by planks of wood and newspaper.  The ceiling was even bleaker; stains, mildew, and I swear I heard something, probably rats, scurrying between the floorboards. I never felt dirtier than I did then, sitting in that dumpster of a room, but money is money.

Nathan entered the room from the kitchen, holding a teapot in one hand, a trivet in another, and placed the sheet of wood onto the table, then put the pot onto it, then walked over and sunk into his chair. We didn’t speak during that break. While we sat in silence he looked out the window, the sun illuminated his eyes like electric bulbs while he gazed longingly at God knows what. An uncomfortable feeling swelled up in the quiet room, and an internal struggle between staying or leaving became forefront in my mind.

This man is weird, I thought, but friendly. Maybe I should leave now, before he goes deeper into his strange past. Or, maybe, I shouldn’t, that would be rude, especially for the amount he paid me — no, I’ll stay, at least for the rest of today. But I can’t see myself coming back here, even for the money. I’ve read enough books to know that when you enable someone’s delusions, it only becomes worse at time goes on.

Finally he turned his head, and singled with a nod that it was time to begin.

VIII

“I visited more libraries and bookstores after that, still trying to piece together why this thing invaded my dreams, but never found anything more than what I already knew. I put an ad or two in the paper, asking for anyone who had knowledge about dreams, Fylegt, or Ones Before Us, but I didn’t get anything for weeks. Until about a month later, I received a phone call.

“His name was Edward and he said he knew about the book, Fylegt, the ring, everything, and could speak more on the subject if we were to meet. Without a second thought, I agreed, so we met at Hot Brew, Hot Buns — that one coffee shop on Dutch Boulevard, the one with the delicious homemade cinnamon buns.

“He was there before I was, sitting against a wall at a corner table, wearing some type of black hooded cloak. When I sat across from him, I couldn’t really get a good look at his face.

“He never looked at me either, only stared at the swirling white in his coffee. There was an awkward silence for a few minutes, then he finally spoke.

“‘You’ve read Vieni Prieš Mus, have you? You possess the ring as well, yes? You have seen Fylegt, the thousand-eyed guide? I know what it says in the book, but he goes by many names. I am sure that you can guess that there was a time, before that book came to exist, when people worshiped the gods in those texts, calling them something different from we do.

“‘I digress. You came for information, yes? Well, I can help you, but I must know you can be trusted. Give me your home address, so if I like, I can find you at any time. Also, show me the ring, you know the one. Then you can start describing your dream. I want more information on what you have seen and what you know, before I divulge anything.’”

“And so I gave him my address and went into detail about my dream, like I did with you Chase. I also spoke about the book, and although unasked, what I thought about Fylegt. And I showed him the ring, and he seemed oddly captivated by it, but he quickly looked back to his coffee. He never looked at me when I spoke, it was like he didn’t care about what I had to say, only wanting confirmation on what he already knew.”

“‘Ah… yes, sounds like Fylegt really did come to you. We can discuss this more at my home. It is unsafe to speak of such things publicly. Meet me here, tomorrow, at six o’clock, yes in the morning.’” He slide a piece of paper across the table, “‘I will take you where I live, where all your questions will be answered.’”

IX

“I showed up earlier this time. The sun was only a little bit over the horizon, and the sky was a soft grayish blue. I stood, gazing up at the skyscrapers, watching as their windows became white with the sunlight. Then, dozens of birds came out of nowhere and flew passed the white-outed glass, and they all looked to be more like silhouettes than birds.

It all was so beautiful that I became entranced, but, unfortunately, Edward was next to me, as if he teleported, and abruptly snapped me back to reality with his scratchy, low, voice.

“‘You came, good. Follow me’”

“He was still wearing that black cloak from the day before, I noticed, and he lead me to the bottom part of that enormous bridge that spans across the Refleski River. Standing near the bridge’s base, the chill from the moving water crept up over us. He muttered something, then a door appeared in the cement beam.

“Of course I asked if the door was there before Chase, but he didn’t answer. He only stood there, looking down the open doorway. It was probably my imagination or maybe I didn’t notice it when we arrived, it was early after all. Either way, I shrugged it off and followed him through the entrance.

“The opening lead down a narrow hallway that randomly veered every few steps. It was like a maze, and in some instances I nearly tripped when I wasn’t paying attention. For someone with a cane, it was an unforgiving place. After what felt like an hour or so, we came to another opening, then he said with a point of his bony finger, “‘my home.’”

“It was large, square, and filled from floor to ceiling with shelves packed to the brim with books, some half opened and spilling out from every crevice. A wooden table, chair, and a half full coffee pot was in the center. Hanging over table was a chandelier crafted from some type of purple crystal, maybe amethyst? I don’t know, but I did know it emitted an eerie violet glow that gently covered the room.

“When I walked over to the chair to sit down, a door in the back wall appeared. Again, I accredited it to my imagination, or maybe the room was much longer than I thought and I didn’t see the door from the entryway.

“Midway from the seat, Edward sprinted passed me and sat down in the chair. It was his home, so I didn’t say anything, he had the right to sit in his only chair. But he didn’t have to steal it away like a child. So with a grumble, I found the sturdiest pile of books and sat. Then he spoke.

“‘As you can tell I have thousands of books, covering every subject known to man, but the information you seek is beyond that door.’” He motioned with hand towards the wooden door, “‘But I can only allow you to read what is contained in that room for three hours. Once those threes hours are finished, you are to be removed from the room, and you can never read them again.’”

“‘I cannot say which book contain what information. That is for you to find out. You are lucky enough to see this place, let alone read what lies behind that door.’“

A bell rung from somewhere in the house, and looking to my watch, it was a quarter to seven. It is time to leave, Nathan said, and for me to come back tomorrow, to meet him at the same place and at the same time.

I agreed to but really had no intentions of coming back. He was clearly delusional, and I believed that if I continued to enable him with his tale of some old god, or some person named Edward, I would somehow be dragged down by him into his lunacy. With haste I put my things away and I was politely rushed out of the house. While I moved down the porch stairs, the door behind me slammed shut and several locks clinked into place.

X

I didn’t show the next or any of the following days. Every day I received a letter from him, asking me to finish writing the story, but I ignored each one, some never opened and shredded. Though the pay was great, there was something strange about him, something felt off with the whole thing, something that could lead me into more trouble than it was worth.

Not knowing where I lived helped me keep hidden and I didn’t think he could use a computer even if he tried. But the feeling of being watched was always present. Sometimes when I’d walk home from work at night, I could hear footsteps trailing behind me, but when I’d turn and look, nothing’s ever there but the yellow glow of the street lamps.

And other times, while I unlock the front door, I swear I could hear something moving around from inside the apartment, but when I finally get the door open, the house is empty, and nothing is disturbed.

It’s just my mind playing tricks, that’s all, I told myself while laying in bed. Those sounds at night, or the noises in the  apartment are just my head toying with me. I just need to calm down and forget all about Nathan and his crazy story.

Not just his story is crazy, he’s crazy too, just a crazy old coot with wild dreams about the bogey man, nothing more. Plus, with a body like his, he couldn’t harm a fly, let alone a man in his early twenties.

I mean, honestly, if anything would happen, I can call the police… maybe I’ll do that, tomorrow. Yes, tomorrow, if the harassment continues.

The alarm clock on the bed stand blinked eleven, and I set it to wake me at six the following day. Closing my eyes, I gradually floated off into my own dream world — one without monsters, old men, or Fylegt.

XI

A pounding noise rattled in my skull, forcing me awake. Through a wall of haziness I looked and saw I was no longer in my bedroom, or my home, but in a basement. And my head hurt greatly, it felt like I banged it off a wall or something, but I didn’t focus on that just then, I needed to get up. When I tried to stand, I quickly realized I couldn’t, that my wrists and ankles were bound by rope to a wood chair.

Twisting and jerking against the tight rope, my flesh felt like it was on fire, and the sweat that covered my skin only increased the burning. Pulling, tugging, writhing, and nearly falling over is what I did for what felt like an hour. The body odor that lingered around me was the only thing that reminded me I wasn’t dreaming.

Finally I gave up and took to inspecting the room. The light coming through the two windows near the ceiling, and some light coming down the poorly built stairwell to my right, helped me see my

surroundings.

It was a basement, that was for sure. The floor was cement, the walls were made from cinder blocks, and they were both painted blue. In each corner of the room were boxes, stacks of them, and on some of them were piles of carelessly placed knick-knacks. The ceiling overhead was low and had a layer of wires and metal tubing that seemed to go in every direction.

Strangely enough, it reminded me of my college dorm room. Small, square, and poorly light. Unexpectedly, memories filtered into my mind like a film. Images of my days at Harrison University, ones filled with writing about people’s dreams and thoughts in coffee shops, classrooms, and restaurants.

At first, it was uncomfortable to ask strangers about their dreams, especially when it was a woman, but as time went on, it became easier, everything became easier. By the end of the school year, I had stacks of notebooks filled with stories, ones from students, faculty members, and some people I met off-campus.

Sounds from overheard broke me from my nostalgic memories. Footsteps, I thought, someone was frolicking around while I was here, tied to this damn chair. When I tried to scream, my voice was muffled. Through everything, I never realized my mouth was filled with cloth, and my lips were taped shut.

Taking to the room again, I looked around, assuring myself there was nothing I could do to escape. When I finished, I came to the decision to throw caution to the wind. It was time to smash the chair against the floor.

I rocked it frontwards, then backwards, and repeated the process until its motion carried itself. Toward the rear it toppled over, crashing against the cement floor, luckily I held my head forward, because I nearly smacked the back of my skull on the cement.

But I wasn’t lucky enough, as the chair didn’t give and I was left on my back, staring up at the ceiling, cursing myself. Being on my backside was greatly uncomfortable, so as before, I rocked the chair until it turned over onto its side, so I could at least stare at the wall, as if it was some way more pleasant to look at than the ceiling.

While I stared at the blue wall, the creaking of the door pierced the air, and the sound of heavy feet echoed through the dim room. Even though I fought off the overwhelming fear growing inside me, my eyes still began to water, and my pants were on track to be soiled. When the footsteps were no longer on the stairs, but on the floor behind me, I closed my eyes, feeling the sweat starting to form over my body.

A question popped into my mind like an exploding balloon: Who was it? Who would do such a thing as kidnap and bound a man to a chair in his, or her, basement? I wronged no one, and I’ve always kept my rude thoughts to myself. Maybe I should look? What harm could it do? I mean, I’m already tied up, so the worst thing that could really happen is that he, or she, tapes my eyes closed. Then what? I can’t look at this bleak place? I’ll take my chances.

Straining my neck, I turned my head and looked over my shoulder. The fear from before was pulled up like a curtain, and another curtain fell down, one of anger and frustration. Standing there, looking down at me with wrinkle surrounded eyes,  a cane in his right hand, and the other hand in his sweater vest pocket, was that damn old man – Nathan.

XII

“Don’t bother trying to break free, you won’t be able to. As you’ve noticed, those ropes are tight and the chair is sturdy,” he said as he flipped a switch. Lights blared down upon the room. In a knee-jerk reaction, I shut my eyes. “You were ignoring my letters, my one request, the thing I paid you to do. In my day, when a man paid another man to do something, that man would do it in a timely matter. But that’s neither here or there, times are different…”

His voice trailed off, like he was caught in a thought, then he snapped back.

“You thought you could avoid me, but like I said in the beginning. I have little time to have my story written down. Your childish behavior was wasting precious time, so I had to be, you could say, a bit extreme.”

He was now next to me, kneeling down, his green eyes glistening underneath the light. A smile crept over his face.

“So, my boy, it’s time to finish the story,” he continued to speak as he put the chair back onto its legs. “I picked up some paper and pens from the store, for you to use. I hope it’s to your liking. I’ll go get them now. Don’t move,” he chuckled, then made his way upstairs.

He came trotting down the stairs, then stood in front of me, pen and paper held out. The smile from before never left him, unfortunately. “This will be tricky, but I trust you enough that you won’t try anything troublesome. I’ll unbind your wrists, so you can write freely, but the tape will remain, as will the ropes around your ankles.” With a small knife, he cut the rope and the cold air that rushed over my wrists, soothing the self-induced rope burn, was as satisfying as ice cream on a summer’s day.

He placed the writing supplies on my lap, patted them, and said it was time to begin. With the cheap black pen gripped in my hand, the tip pressed against the striped white paper, Nathan continued his crazy story.

“Where did I leave off? Oh yes, I was speaking to Edward about that room beyond the closed door.”

“’Go, if you must. Look at those documents in that room.’” His frail hand pointed underneath his cloak, “‘but know once you have read those words, laid on those yellowed pages thousands of years ago, you can never unlearn what they contain.’”

“I thought he was crazy but he spoke with such conviction I started to believe he was telling the truth. Cautiously I made my way to the door. I trembled when I grasped the black steel handle in front of me, the metal cooled my warm palm. With a pull, the hinges wailed and the door slowly opened. Standing aimlessly in front of the open doorway, I looked into the blackness ahead.

“Hesitantly, I entered the room, instantly there was a cold chill that shot through my back, like when a child is caught doing something naughty. Before I could even consider turning back and sprint away from that horrible place, the door slammed shut, and flames shot out from torches along the walls. It was so sudden I didn’t have time to shield my eyes from the brightness, but once my eyes adjusted to the glow of the flames, I could see a square stairwell in the center of the room.

“Not wanting to spend more time than needed, I hurried down the stairs. In a few minutes, I found myself in another room. It was similar to Edward’s room, large, square, and cast from cement, except this room was mostly empty. Light filtered in from the outside through unseen crevices where the walls met the ceiling.

“In the middle of the room was a long wooden table, and placed on it was a stack of books and a pile of old papers. Beyond and above the table was a small window near the ceiling, and pass the glass was a blotchy yellow glow.

“My footsteps echoed against the stone floor as I made my way to the table. Once there, I stood, looking down at the books laid out. None of them had titles, and each one was colored the same dull brown. Picking up one by random, I opened it, and started to read as quickly as I could, wanting to obtain as much information in the shortest amount of time.

“While my eyes moved over the words, thanking God in the back of my mind that it was surprisingly written in English, I knew what I read would answer my questions, and provide me with some unforeseen inhuman knowledge of great things that once lived in the past, though they’ve been long removed from the minds of today’s masses.

“I dare not utter about what I learned those books Chase. Only a madman could conjure up those dreaded tales and paint those horrifying images of unforgiving, uncaring, hellish gods that once ruled space and time. Some still live, in unexplored parts of space, some live within our dreams, and some on this very earth.”

He sighed, then went on.

“Hours had past, and the light reflecting in was fading when I finished reading everything there was. Looking up to the window, I caught a glimpse of a shadow moving across it, like something ran in front of the light.

“Then the yellow light began to dim and as if it was bleeding, maroon seeped out through its center. Slowly it engulfed the yellow completely and while it did so, an unsettling glow of purple blanketed the room.

“A booming voice crashed through the air, shaking the contents on the table. I didn’t know if it was speaking a language or simply shouting nonsense. As it spoke my bones shook, and an overwhelming feeling of fear and dread swelled up inside me, making me sick to my stomach and locking me where I stood. I focused on the red tinted window, as if I was hypnotized by it, and all the while the shouting grew louder, stronger, to the point where my thoughts were blocked out by the ungodly words.

“As I watched the window, it started to grow, its width expanding across the cement wall. Colorless tentacles began pouring out near the window’s frame, weaving, twisting, and flapping across and against the tan wall. I tried to scream, Chase, I tried to scream to Edward, to anyone who could hear and help, to relieve me from that hell. But I quickly learned that when I tried to yell, all that came out was gurgles, as if my throat was clogged with water.

“When a giant bulbous head pushed through the window, I didn’t know if I had fainted and was dreaming, or that I was awake. One massive hand gripped the left side of the window, then another giant hand gripped the right side, and they pushed open the window further as black ooze melted down into the room underneath the massive claws.

“With tears streaming down my face, and urine down my leg, I came to the shocking realization that I wasn’t dreaming, or unfortunately dead. What was really happening before my fear-stricken eyes was that Fylegt was coming through that window. The thousand-eyed guide was entering my — our — reality as if the portal from one world to the next was as simple as crawling through a glassless window.

“It hit me like a ton of bricks. He was always there, watching, waiting, for the right moment to enter this world and drag it down into its hellish abyss filled with unspeakable creatures and monsters I dare not think about, let alone speak about.

“I believe that God granted me a chance at that moment, because a second wind blew through me before the entirety of Fylegt’s body was in the room. With newly discovered courage, I broke free from my horror-induced restraints, turned, and sprinted towards the stairwell as quickly as my legs and cane would allow.

“Up the stairwell I went, behind and around me I could see black vines spreading up the walls, some nearly grabbing hold of my ankles. Even with the reflexes of an old man, I somehow managed to avoid them.

“I made it to the torch lit room covered in sweat and I could feel the blisters starting to form on my feet and my palm. Banging on the door, I slammed my arms and fists against the wood, and learned quickly the gurgles ceased, so I screamed as loud as I could for Edward to open the door, to let me out, to open the gateway between Heaven and Hell.

“I peered over my shoulder while I rapped on the door, but I soon learned that was a mistake. What I looked upon filled me with fear that no man ever felt before. Vine-like tentacles slithered and flapped up the stairwell, gradually sliding up the sides of the room, and deep in the shadows of the stairwell. Beyond the veil of darkness, I could see eyes, thousands of them, thousand of misshapen eyes peering up at me through the blackness. A wailing echoed out from the stairwell, filling the room with an inhuman shriek. It was so loud that the vibrations alone extinguished all the flames in the room. It was so maddening, so… so… — monstrous, that all I wanted to do Chase was to stop beating the door, grab ahold of my ears, and rip them off with my barehands.

“But I didn’t, as you can tell. Using my cane now, I hit it against the door for what felt like hours, but the wood never faltered. While I continued to slam my cane against the door, I committed another folly and peeked over my shoulder again to see a massive hand, claws and all, reaching out from the shadowy depths of the stairwell towards me.

“Every ounce of strength and energy my feeble body possessed was used at that very moment. My cane was starting to crack, my hands were bleeding, and in some instances I was using my head as an object as well, so my head was bleeding as well. I could feel the hand coming closer, I don’t know why Fylegt was toying me with, with its slow movement, but I knew it was.

“As the hand grew near, I could feel a warmth slowly moving through my body, starting from my back. It was as if I was standing next to an open flame, slowly inching towards it until the flames consumed me.

“But I didn’t let them, I didn’t let the flames consume my body Chase. Not a second too soon, the door gave way and swung open. I burst forth like a man tripping over an unnoticed ledge. My body flung down through the open doorway and collided hard with the stiff cold dirt near the Refleski River.”

XIII

Trying to keep up with his fast and almost gibberish-like words, my pen scribbled across the paper. Finally when he finished, I looked up to see he was coated in sweat, and a vein near his temple was popping out. He pulled a stool out from behind one of the piles of boxes, placed it near me and sat, heavily breathing.

“After I got out of that damn room, I ran home, never looking back, and locked myself in for two weeks. I was too scared to leave. I didn’t sleep once, and I barely sleep now, terrified to dream.” His breathing was slowing down, and the enlarged vein started to deflate. I tried to speak but forgot that my mouth was covered.

He undid the tape, pulled a sock from my mouth, and after a few seconds of hacking, I spoke. “Thank you. About Fylegt, I thought it was a guide of some sort? It’s supposed to bring you somewhere? Oh and what happened to the ring, the one you bought?”

Looking from the floor to me, his bloodshot eyes, I could tell, were filled with fear, when he said. “Yes, that is true. It is a guide, but not by our definition. In our world, a guide is someone who directs us somewhere, but in their world — its world — it doesn’t show you to a destination, but drags you to it, screaming.

“The place could be Hell, The Netherworld, Oblivion, I don’t know. But I do know one thing, that I refuse to be yanked from this world, and thrown into some unknown place with an abomination that has millions of eyes and tentacles.

“And the ring was stolen by Edward, I later found out. I’ll talk about that later.”

He was calm now. Maybe I could talk some sense into him and get out of here, I thought. Watching as he rubbed his eyes and yawned, I spoke. “I’m sorry you’re in this weird situation, I really am, but having me write it all down isn’t going to help anything. I mean, even if it’s on paper, if this thing steals you away, what’s the point?

“The story would collect dust, no one would read it, no one would know your dreams. Hell, no one would even know about Fylegt, your venture, or that it all even existed.”

“Because Chase,” he shouted, “people will know — people have to know! In some way, they must know that Fylegt, and others like it, exist! That when they sleep and dream, the monstrosities they unconsciously conjure up might not be a product of their mind, but might actually be real! Flesh, blood, and bones real!”

“That doesn’t answer the question Nathan. What are you going to next? Let’s say people read your story after all this, it still wouldn’t change the predicament you’re in. You’ll still be haunted by that creature regardless. How are you going to live with that?”

The purple bags hanging from his eyes didn’t help his plea when he said, “I’ll just never sleep. And If I do, it’ll only be in small intervals, like an hour or two. I’ll avoid the REM cycle and dreams completely, won’t I? If I don’t dream, it can’t get me, right?”

There was no other choice, so I agreed with him with a nod. His reasoning was sound, for a madman, but I still needed to push him to untie me. I didn’t care what he was afraid of, or what he did, only that I needed to get out of that house, away from him. My thoughts drifted towards the possibilities of what he might do to me in the future. If he doesn’t find kidnapping a terrible act, I couldn’t fathom what other deviant acts he finds acceptable.

“I’ve written your story,” I said coolly, “so how about you untie me now?”

“No, not yet Chase, there’s still more story left to be told. You just stay put where you’re at” he said with a smile.

“Why would you want to leave anyway? You’re safe from Fylegt here, with me. We could stay here forever and take shifts sleeping. While one sleeps, the other watches! If something happens, the one awake could wake the sleeping one up! It’d be great! It’s fool-proof!”

His fingers pushed into my thighs and his mouth was wide with a smile only an insane man could form. The deranged person sitting in front of me had the appearance of a young boy during Christmas; full of excitement, happiness, wonder, and hope.

I had no choice but to play his game… until the chance presented itself for me to escape.

XIV

Placing the pen to the paper, I said, “You said there was more story to tell, so please, continue.”

“Oh, right — after bursting from that door next to the river, like I said before, I went home and locked myself up for about two weeks. I didn’t sleep for those two weeks, except when my body gave out a few times for a few hours. Although I was safe from Fylegt while awake, what I read in those books still haunted me.

“I refuse to go into detail Chase. It’s like a deep, dark, secret that cannot be told to another living soul. A secret you just can’t say, because something in your mind brings it to a screeching halt. And that terrible anxiety swells up inside you, nearly leaving you in the fetal position, in the darkest place you can find, with tears streaming down your face and sweat covering your body. But no secret Chase, no secret held by any man, compares to the one I learned in those ancient books.

“Worlds long past. People, creatures, and gods that once existed, some still living in parts of our dreams, and others living on planets thousands of light years away. Some watching, some waiting, others going about their lives as if we never existed. For those who wait and watch, they await for the stars to align in an unworldly geometric way so they can travel easily, safely, and quickly across the vast black abyss that surrounds our planet.

“Humanity would no longer exist if they came! Our advances in technology wouldn’t stand any chance against their size, let alone their godly intelligence and unknown technology they might possess.

“Even the highest level of human intelligence, doesn’t even reach the scratch the lowest intellectual capacity they have. If someone tried to simply understand their technology, or if someone was placed into their world, that person’s brain would boil like water, and melt out from his ears and nose!”

As he spoke his arms flailed in the air, his breathing was heavy again, his face drenched in sweat, and he was shouting, as if the loudness of his voice would get the point across better.

“Enough about that… Once those weeks had past, I went back to the base of the bridge, searching for the door Edward lead me through, but I couldn’t find it anywhere. The only thing there was the cement the bridge’s beam was built from. After that I took to looking for Edward, to gather more information, but it was like he never existed. I asked the employees at the coffee shop about him, but they didn’t remember him. I then asked the ad agency who helped him get in contact with me, but they didn’t recall him either, neither did their records show there ever being an Edward.

“The situation was already strange but it grew even stranger, as you can tell. So I gave up searching for Edward, returned home and stayed there, seldom leaving for anything but for groceries. Months had past, and to my relief, the dreams stopped, so I believed it was safe to sleep again, just for a little while… two hours at the most. Well, Chase, I was wrong, so very wrong.

“The last night I was able to sleep was about two weeks ago. Since then, I haven’t touched a bed, a pillow, or even a blanket in deathly fear my body will give way and I’ll fall into the blackness of slumber. What happened that made me terrified to sleep? I’ll tell you.

“In the nightmare that kept me awake to this day started as I entered the cement room beyond the wooden door, from Edward’s home. Across the wooden table was Edward, standing, the light from the window behind him basking over his body. It was like he was waiting for me, staring at me while I walked over to the table, like when a mother waits for her daughter to come home after curfew.

“‘Welcome back,’” he said in that low scratchy voice of his. “‘I have been waiting. Tell me, what did you learn from these books?’”

“‘Things I don’t want to remember, Edward. I was foolish to think that texts from the world of the past would help me remove Fylegt from my dreams, and stop it from chasing me.’”

“‘I warned you that what you learn in this room cannot be unlearned, and I never said the knowledge you gained here would help you against the thousand-eyed guide, or any other ancient deity. It will continue to pursue you, in your dreams, until it gets what it wants.’”

“‘And what is that? What could a god from billions of years ago want with an old man? I don’t have any special powers, I don’t possess worldly knowledge that they can somehow use, and I definitely don’t have any monetary value. I’m just an old man, just a pile of flesh like the millions of other people in this world.’”

“‘I know not,’” he said, “‘what reasoning or motivation the ancient god has, or what it wants with you, but I do know that once one has been chosen by Fylegt, one is tracked down until the deity completes its task.’”

“‘So I’m dead, regardless of what I’ve learned in those books?’” I spat pointing to the tomes on the table, “‘Or the information I gathered from Ones Before Us? It’s all useless? What was the point of it all then? What is the point of us meeting in the coffee shop? What the hell is the point of this now? If I am to die, then don’t bother me with this nonsense. I have a short time to live, so I plan to make the best of it.’”

“‘Fine, so be it. Leave here. You do not have long left to live anyway,’” Edward said with a smirk across his pale face.

“When I tried to turn around, my feet wouldn’t move. I looked down and saw that they somehow molded into the cement floor. Looking up to Edward, his devilish grin and those cold, almost dead, glossy white eyes peered at me from underneath the cloak’s hood nearly drove me crazy.

“Suddenly he broke into a hysterical laugh that reverberated throughout the room, echoing into my ears. If I wasn’t stuck to the floor Chase, I would’ve jumped over that table and shut him up myself.

“For what seemed like hours he continued to laugh. His cackles were becoming maddening, gradually becoming louder, higher pitched, and screechy as time passed. All the while my attempts to free my feet were useless, they refused budge.

“I shouted to him, “‘Can’t you stop and help me!? Can’t you see I’m stuck to the floor? For the love of God, can’t you stop this lunacy and help me!?’”

“The sound of his laughter continued to pour into the room, even while he spoke. He lifted his hand into the air and pinched between his two skeletal fingers was a silver ring.”‘Remember this? Remember purchasing this ring that one night? Of course you do, no matter how intoxicated you were,’” he was talking with a lisp, as if a snake could speak. “‘This ring is the reason why Fylegt haunts you, or anyone who adorns it. It is the great connector.

“‘Forged eons ago beyond space and time, this ring came to be, like the planets themselves. I do not know who crafted such a powerful ring, as it happened long before I left the womb. The ring itself is like a signal fire, and when ignited, Fylegt comes running. And although I know not the maker of the ring, I do know that once the connection has been made, it cannot be broken.

“‘And as I said before Nathan – Fylegt will haunt you until it gets what it wants.’”

“Dumbfounded, I stared at him. Then suddenly as if Edward was built from snow and placed under heat, he started to melt. His skin bubbled and started to ooze down his face. Lumps of flesh fell from his cheeks, falling onto the table with a loud plop. Looking beyond the wide wound in his cheek, I could see the insides of his mouth. Within his toothless mouth, a gangrenous tongue slithered around in a puddle of white saliva. He titled his head back, and the hood slide off, to reveal what Edward truly was — some type of undead abomination.

“Parts of his head were gone, only large gaping holes showing the insides of his empty skull were seen above his brow. Both of his ears were missing, and what I believed to be a nose was only some type of hairy tumor protruding from his face.

“He continued to melt before my eyes. The tumor slide down his face. Skin and hair sinking into his open skull. His eyes started to bubble and burst like the worst kind of zit, causing gunky white fluid to splash over the table onto me.

“Soon his body was a puddle of boiling putrid liquid on the floor, and the ring laid in the center of the white puddle, then I watched it sink underneath the bubbling surface. I wanted to be that ring Chase, to melt out from that hellish place and wake up somewhere else, preferably my bed, and be far, far away from Edward and that God forsaken cement square room.

“But I didn’t melt away Chase, unfortunately. All that happened was my stomach became nauseous, but before I could relieve it, even more maddening events took place. The room, Chase, the room started to melt, like Edward’s body, right in front of me.

“The table, books, and papers sank into the floor; and all at once the walls descended into the ground. The ceiling gave way and crashed down onto me like a thick sheet of water; and the floor was sucked down into an invisible drain. Nothing was left of the room. Not the walls, window, ceiling, or floor. Only I, standing there, stuck to the floor that I couldn’t see, aimlessly staring out into an inescapable white abyss.

“Shaking, crying, shouting, my clothes drenched in water, sweat, tears, and puke, I stood. Praying, hoping, for someone or something somewhere to save me, to rescue me from that horrifying nightmare I was trapped in.”

XV

“With all dreams, Chase, they eventually come to an abrupt end. The porcelain world I was prisoner in suddenly became dissipated and I woke up. The gray blue sky peeking through the blinds was there to greet me, but I had other things on my mind besides the morning view. I needed to find someone to write down everything that happened to me, and that’s what I ventured out to do. Then, after a few hours, that’s when you entered, Chase.

“I found your ad in the paper that day, and the rest of the story you know.”

He was more relaxed now than before, I thought. His face wasn’t red, and the sweat that once covered him had dried, leaving dark spots near his collar and armpits. In some way, I knew the end was near. I knew that I would escape somehow, leaving him to live out of the rest of his secluded days in that dingy house. Once home, I wouldn’t call the authorities, it wouldn’t be necessary, because all I wanted to do was be rid of him.

“So, then, Nathan, what’s next?” I asked.

“Nothing, friend, nothing remains. I’ve told you everything that I wanted to. You can put that pen down now. Soon, very soon even, it’ll all be over.”

“What do you by ‘it’ll all be over?’”

“My journey, your journey, everything and everyone’s journey. We’ll all be dragged into oblivion, where nothing will matter, because nothing will exist.”

“But what about your story? The reason you hired me was to document your story, so others could read it and know about Fylegt, the ancient ones, Edward, everything you’ve seen and experienced. If everything is erased from reality, then your story will too.”

“No, that’s not true, I don’t believe that. Those papers on your lap will live through it all, I know it. In one way or another, the eyes of the future will glance over those horror-ridden texts and know what waits for them out in the stars, and beyond their conscious minds. I’m sure of it,” he said with a smile, like he knew that everything was actually going to be okay.

He stood up, came over to me, and undid the rest of the restraints, saying under his breath. “You won’t be needing these anymore,” then stood in front of me, his free hand in his pants pocket, looking at me.

Setting the papers down, pen on top, I stood up and stretched. My eyes instantly moved to the stairwell. I was hesitated to run, to sprint up those creaky old stairs, through the oddly carpeted hallway, and out through the door and onto the hard pavement outside. Even though the overwhelming urge swelled up inside me to act out that thought, I didn’t dare execute it. I only stood and looked at him.

As if I could read his mind, I knew he knew what I was thinking, but he kept on smiling and moving his hand in his pants pocket. What could his hand be touching? My mind moved through the possibilities, even the perverted ones, though they are unlikely, they still crept into my thoughts. But nothing surfaced, so I questioned him.

“What’s in your pocket Nathan?”

“Oh, this?” he asked as he pulled out a pistol, pointing the barrel towards me. The artificial light gleamed off its black metallic skin.

Dear God, this guy really is nuts, crazier than I ever imagined. The dreams were one thing, but this? I thought, then asked, “What’s that for?”

“To ensure that you don’t leave before the end. Even though we will be gone soon enough, I’d rather not go alone. So this, will make sure you stay here with me. That is, of course, until the release that awaits us comes to greet us.”

Despite the cold of the basement, I was warm, slowly growing hotter as I eyed the gun pointed at me. My skin became moist, and my hair stuck to my forehead.

I had no idea what to do. To try my luck and attempt to run away? No, I would be shot dead before I could reach the stairs. Maybe I could disarm him? No, the likelihood of me doing so without being harmed was slim to none. Perhaps I could persuade him to hand over the gun? No, that was dumb, really dumb Chase.

Countless options ran through my mind as to what I could do, but all of them were either too dangerous or too half-cocked to pursue. The safest option was to stand and wait, for whatever he said was going to come. Hopefully he’ll became so crazy he will drop the gun in a haze of lunacy and I can make my escape, or better yet, he’ll shoot himself.

XVI

Hours had passed and neither of us moved a muscle or talked. He was still smug with that dumb smile across his face, his eyes glittering with ignorant joy. I was looking around the room, trying to keep my vision away from that damn old man, but when a shadow moved passed over the light, I looked to him. Then the light blacked out again, but only for a second. It was as if  an object was moving in front of the lights, back and forth it went, like a child running from one end of the hallway to the other. The continuous barrage of light and dark started to bother my already exhausted eyes, so I shut them tightly.

Suddenly the light bulbs overhead exploded, pieces of glass rained from the sky and crashed against the floor, I shielded myself with my arms, still keeping my eyes closed. Then, peeking through my eyelids, I could see the room was now pitch black, except for the soft glow of light peaking underneath the door up the stairwell.

“It’s here,” Nathan’s voice was cool, almost happy, when he spoke.

When I went to reply I was stopped by the shaking of the room. Boxes fell over, the chair I was once trapped in fell onto its back, the knick-knacks clacked against the cement, and the glass in the windows near the ceiling started to crack one after another. A soft purple glow filtered into the room from where the floor met the walls.

Nathan continued to stare at me from across the room, not noticing, or ignoring, what was happening around us. Panic struck me like lightning and I sprinted towards the stairwell, but a loud bang echoed through the basement, and a flame shot up in front of me, stopping me where I stood.

“Dammit Nathan! You want to stay here and die, fine! But let me leave! You’re the one who dreamed this monster! You’re the one who wore that damn ring! And you’re the one who read whatever nonsense from those books! Not I! Why should I stay? Why force me to relive your delusions?!”

“They’re not delusions Chase, they’re real. As real as you, me, and this gun I’m holding. You don’t believe, which is fine for now, but soon you will. You will look with your own two eyes upon what I spoke of, whether you are willing to or not.”

I didn’t care about his gun, his delusions, or whatever else he had in store for me. I was getting out of that place. I rushed towards him, keeping my eye on the gun. But as my fist went into the air, aiming for his face, the purple light grew so blinding that I couldn’t see.

When the light dissipated after a short moment, I was then left standing in an entirely different place. A large open square room, built completely from cement, with a wooden table placed in the center, and a small window near the ceiling beyond the table, where light shined through.

It immediately crashed into my mind where I was.

“This was the room… the room Edward lead Nathan to — no, this can’t be — what he spoke of was pure nonsense, something he dreamt of, hallucinations fueled by a madman” I muttered aloud, as I spun around to take in the whole room.

Suddenly I became aware Nathan was nowhere to be found, and when I ran up the stairwell, I found its opening caged off by black steel bars. Gripping them, I shook them, trying to break them down by sheer force, but they didn’t budge.

As I gripped the bars, I noticed there was a ring on my right hand, on my ring finger. The ring Nathan bought that one drunken night, the ring that Edward said was the “great connector,” the ring that served as a flare for Fylegt, to inform it was time to come.

Releasing the gate, I tried to pry the ring from my finger, but like the bars, it wouldn’t move. Even after blood started to bead out underneath the silver band, it still wouldn’t give. Every tug and pull gave the feeling like it was attached my skin, an extension of my flesh.

What sounded like something being slide across the cement echoed up the stairwell, forcing me to stop with the ring, turn and look.

“Oh no… Oh God no!” I screamed when I sprinted back down into the room, and peered up at the window. It was larger than before, and still growing in size. Standing, blood trickling down my finger, I watched the window slowly grow wider, until it expanded across the entire wall. After a few minutes, there was no more cement, but only a pane of glass.

Beyond the window was nothing but some type of white water. I inched towards it, my curiosity getting the better of me, but as I was coming to the table, the glass started to crack. Before I could turn and run, the pane shattered into a ton of pieces, and a milky liquid surged into the room, slamming and holding me against the floor.

I struggled to move as it flowed over me, but the tide kept me under. Eventually the waves stopped, and the water became still. As quickly as I could, losing oxygen by the second, I placed my feet to the floor and sprung up, swimming to the surface. When I broke through the water, I inhaled as much air as I could, too much I soon found out when I couldn’t catch my breath and started hacking.

Looking around, the whole room was nearly filled to the brim with the strange water. Peering over the liquid I could see the large window was the wall again, and the small window near the ceiling returned.

I’m losing it, my mind has left me, I thought, how could this be possibly happening? How could something be a wall one minute, then a window, and then revert back to the wall in the matter of seconds? It’s not possible… And what’s this liquid I’m in? It’s looks like milk, but it doesn’t smell, or taste, like it.

A term I learned in a psychology class at the university screamed in my mind: folie imposée. Nathan’s wild tales somehow hypnotized me into believing his hallucinations are real, and now I’m experiencing them! His dreams and the world he built were now imprinted into my conscious mind, and I’m to live through them!

Although I believed this was the case, in the back of my mind, the part I tried to ignore for my own sanity, I knew it wasn’t true. That there was no way a hypnotization could do the things I was experiencing, unless it was in a combination of some hallucinogenic, but I am as sure I was then that Nathan didn’t slip me any type of drugs.

Moving through Nathan’s story rapidly in my head, I tried to see what was next. First, there was the room, where he read the books, then the window, it expanding across the wall, then came… Fylegt!

XVII

As I treaded water, something tugged on the back of my shirt, then another tug, then suddenly something gripped my shirt and never let go. It started to drag me across the room, and as the white water foamed around me, my arms flailed trying to swim away. But when I thought I was going to be pulled down deep under the water, to be held down under the surface and drown in that terrible room, unexpectedly, the dragging ceased.

Believing I was safe, I breathed in deeply, and looked around the room for any signs of what pulled me. Perhaps it’s done? I thought. Maybe I’m imagining it, like this room and water? Mayb-

Something gripped my legs and yanked me underneath, dragging me to the bottom of the room. There, as I was held under the milky water, I could see through the water what pulled me underneath. It was dozens of long black tentacles that came out from the floor, and the floor itself, oh god, was entirely black, as if it was built from shadows. Then, as I watched, resisting the temptation to rip my eyes from their sockets, dozens — no thousands! No millions! Of different eyes started to form across the floor, each one a different shape from the next. Some small, some large, some in shapes and sizes with no earthly name! Under the glare of those ungodly white openings, my mind started to chip away and crumble.

I tried to close my eyes, to shield myself from the insanity I was experiencing, but I couldn’t. In some unknown way I had to look, had to see what was happening around me. I wanted to scream. I wanted to cry out for anyone or anything, anywhere for help, but couldn’t. I knew if I dared open my mouth, the white liquid would rush into my lungs and drown me where I hung.

Thrashing my limbs about, I attempted to break way from the tentacles, but it was useless. Their grip only grew tighter the more I struggled in their grasp.

Hanging there, looking into the millions of eyes, in the distance, there was a sound, kind of like a wailing woman. It grew louder, higher pitched, with every torturous second, and it became to the point where it was the only thing I could hear, except for the screaming in my head.

Delirium crept through my mind like a disease, and I was slowly becoming insane. Everything around became more vivid and real. The shadow across the floor stood out more against the white, and the eyes glowed brightly within its blackness. Their pupils were like outer space in a white void, standing out so much so that I couldn’t help but to stare. And the wailing became so loud that even the screaming that went on in my mind was blocked out.

Even then, I believed it wouldn’t get any worse, how could it? But deep down inside, I knew, I was foolish to think that.

Small mouths grew on each tentacle, ones filled with rows of sharp teeth that appeared to rotate counter clockwise. As one mouth grew, another started its born duty, to chew upon my flesh. Slowly, the saw-like teeth ate through my skin, then my veins and muscles. I tried not to watch as blood oozed out from my wrists and ankles, but I failed, and unwillingly watched as my life force turned into a faint rest mist that wafted towards the surface.

It felt like an eternity hanging there, and I gave up caring a long time ago, only wanting the nightmare to end. I stopped watching the mouths, keeping my focus towards the shadow on the floor, but I could feel the small mouths start to gnaw through my bone. The feeling of thousands of saw-like teeth biting through my skeleton sent millions of sharp, indescribable, surges of pain through my body.

Finally the mouths finished their task, and I aimlessly hung in the water. I could see my hands and feet were drifting as well, away from me. There was nothing left but the blood that swirled around me. My face was blue, my eyes bulged out from my skull, and there was no air left in my lungs.

Limbless, airless, and practically insane, I gave up. Gave up living, gave up on trying to survive, gave up on proving Nathan was a lunatic, just gave up on everything; I wanted to be removed from from everything.

Opening my mouth as wide as it would allow, I felt the salty, creamy substance rush into me. It surged down my throat and smashed into my empty lungs. I could feel them expand immediately, like a balloon bum-rushed with water, and they continued to grow in size until my diaphragm increased to its maximum capacity. Then, like a volcano erupting, all at once, the water shattered through my lungs. Through the flaps of flesh that were once my lungs, it poured into my body like an empty glass. Despite the rapidly approaching darkness, I could feel the water fill my body and engulf my organs, but before the pain grew to be too much, everything became black, consciousness leaving me.

As I succumbed to the afterlife, my vision was changed, and as if I was someone else, I watched as my deceased body go limp and slowly drift upwards the surface.

XVIII

My eyes fluttered open when I awoke, and after they adjusted to the light, I looked and saw that I was outside, and across the black tar, I could see a set of stone stairs leading up to a house, and the cement I was sprawled upon below me.

I staggered to my feet, my legs feeling like buddy, and saw it was nearing dawn, the sky soft blue, and the horizon ablaze with a bright orangish red hue.

First thing to do, I thought, was to figure out where I was. Looking to the address on the black mailbox in front of the house, it read, “1325 Chestnut Street.” When my eyes finished glancing over that address, it felt like a fist rammed into my stomach.

It hit me at once. I was where Nathan found me, where he had me follow him to his house. Strangely, at that moment, I believed everything that transpired lead up to that point, and all the questions that grew inside me cold be answered. But those answers, I thought, were beyond the crumbling wooden door ahead.

As I crept towards the half-broken cement stairs, a coughing attack seized me, and my stomach felt like it turned upside down. Bending over, my hands holding me up, I heaved until something bubbled up my throat, then surged out my mouth.

White water poured out from me, splashing against the stairs below, and with a few more heaves — some of them dry — my stomach was relieved. Despite the relief, my body was burning up, and I could feel the sweat starting to form on my forehead. All the energy I mustered left with the white vomit that oozed and slide down the concrete stairs.

Sleep is what I wanted — what I needed — it was the only thing that mattered then. None of my questions, or any answers the house could give, compared to the overwhelming feeling of wanting to lay down and sleep.

Ignoring the puddle of vomit, I turned and slowly stumbled down the street, towards home.

I could hardly speak when I hailed a taxi. Once in one, I mumbled to the driver to take me to the apartment building. Luckily he never asked what that small was, or what was on my pants, or what sometimes dripped from the side of my mouth.

Fifteen minutes past and I finally arrived at my destination. Pulling myself from the taxi, then tossing whatever I had in my pocket to the driver, I started towards the glass doors.

Through the doors, and stumbling up the flight of stairs, I eventually arrived at my apartment. I caught a glimpse of what I looked like in the golden numbers on my door, but truly, I didn’t care how horrible I appeared.

Fumbling with the keys, I finally unlocked the door and swung it open. I dragged my feet through the open entrance towards the bed, and when I stood over it, I let my body go and fell face first into its wonderful softness.

XIX

The following morning I phoned the office and said I was using all my vacation days this week. I was glad when they didn’t argue or ask why, only saying to enjoy my time off.

Most of the week was spent trying to make sense of what happened, if it was real or not. Every day was filled with reading and researching about Nathan, the things he spoke about, and of course, Fylegt. Unfortunately, I discovered after a few days, there wasn’t much to be found on the Internet, and I was too exhausted to venture into the city, to scour bookshops and libraries, so I came up empty handed.

By Sunday night I was as ready as I ever could be to start my weekly schedule of working and writing, to focus telling stories about others. I was also more than ready to put everything behind me, and lock those dreadful memories in a place even the most skillful of thieves couldn’t breach.

As I laid in bed, in my dark room, I looked beyond the window to my side at the star-filled sky and smiled. Things were looking up. I was eager to get back to normalcy, to the mundane, to reality. Despite my anxiety for the next day, my thoughts trailed off, and soon the comforting grasp of sleep took ahold of me and I drifted away.

By seven o’clock in the morning, I was out the door and walking up Grim Street, towards the Cheery Brooke Gazette. Crisscrossing through the crowd, my sight focused ahead, but my mind focused on the past: an image of Nathan standing in the purple lighted basement, his mouth spewing out madness about everything coming to an end. The image dematerialized, and another picture followed it: Fylegt, looking up at me with those eyes, and those tentacles, holding me, ready to gnaw on my body like jerky, and…

But like I learned from the previous week, I knew how to lock those maddening thoughts away, and so I did, quickly pushing them down, so far below the surface that they weren’t even a blip on my radar. Instead, I tried to fill my mind with thoughts about my coworkers, what they’ve been up to, what their plans were for the upcoming summer season, or if there were any good books they’d read recently.

Lackluster, black and white, boring, yes, that is what I wanted, much more pleasing than-

XX

Walking into my office, I could see my desk was littered with papers and envelopes, that were filled with, what I imagined, requests from people wanting their stories written. Underneath the heap of mail was something wrapped in manila paper, and tied with brown thread, but didn’t have a return address.

Hesitant, I looked down at the package. It looked almost like the one Nathan sent that started the whole mind bending mess that was the last three weeks. But it was impossible for Nathan to send mail, I imagined. He was sucked up by that purple light when I was, if that truly happened.

Once the light was gone, he probably woke up in an alleyway, his mind lost in a haze of his own lunacy. By now, he’s likely trolling the streets, homeless and dirty, rambling on about ancient gods and old texts while citizens stand by and watch as the madman looks to the sky and begs for Fylegt’s mercy.

And I’m sure eventually, someone would report him, and he’d be sent to a mental ward. There he would live out the rest of his days in a square, padded, room.

The tale I told myself put my mind to ease, and with a pair of scissors, I cut the thread. Being greeted by a stack of notebook papers, I looked and could see on top was a white envelope. With quick work of a letter opener, the envelope was opened, and a letter was held out before me.

I read quickly, only glancing through the sentences to get the gist of what it said. As I finished reading, a horror shot through me. My limbs became numb, my face became hot, my vision became blurry, and it felt like my throat was closing shut. Unable to breath, or stand, or see, or even think, I stumbled back, toppling over my chair, and crashed against the floor, and everything turned black.

“Dear Chase

I hope this letter made its way to you

I really did not want to hurt you, or for anything harmful to come your way. I only wanted for us to stick together, and protect each other from you-know-who.

You may have questions, but I do not have answers, or rather, cannot give answers… As the saying goes, “Some questions are better left unanswered.”

Your Friend,
Nathan

P.S. Remember when I said my story will live on? Even after it came and I was gone? Well, I was right.”

I don’t recall much after I finished reading the letter, everything became blurry, then dark. I do remember an overwhelming urge to scream and sprint out of the office. To run through the streets, still screaming, to my apartment. There, I would barricade myself in forever. Unfortunately, that is not what happened, I later learned from an emergency medical technician who crouched beside me.

The EMT was taking my pulse when she told me I simply fainted, most likely due to dehydration. Sitting against the wall, the woman holding an IV bag in the air, I watched the clear liquids trickle down the small plastic tube, then into an IV, then into my vein. After an hour or so, she said I was fine now, but if there were any other issues, to please call 9-1-1 or go to the emergency room. She then packed up her things and left.

Alone in the room, I struggled to my feet, holding myself up with the desk. When my eyes reached the top of my desk, straightaway I realized Nathan’s package was gone, not even the manila paper it was wrapped in was there.

Standing erect now, with no help of the desk, I flung every piece of paper to the ground, opened and pulled out every sheet from the desk drawers, and searched the steel waste bin, in hopes to find anything, but no trace of Nathan’s story was there.

Eventually, I don’t know when, I sat, or collapsed, on the floor, in the center of the hundreds of papers. Feverishly, I trembled, biting my lower lip, and tangling my fingers through my damp hair. I was crying, but couldn’t feel the tears trickling down my face, only the stinging of sweat in my eyes I could feel.

Sitting there, desperately trying to keep my sanity together, I questioned everything.

Am I awake or sleeping? Is this a dream or is this reality? Or is this life — my life — a product of another person? Another person’s dream — or, maybe, it’s all imaginary?

Has everything that lead up to this point real? Was Nathan… real? Was the childhood I spent playing on the front lawn, waiting for my father to come home and read to me, real?

Were those days spent at university, writing down stories of others, real? The smells of the coffee shops, the sights of the campus, the sounds of the parks, where all those just imaginary?

Was everything that I’ve to know, to love, to see and feel, to believe in, not real at all? But simply a figment of my unconscious — or worse — someone else’s?

I don’t know how, or when, but I shut my eyes, and when I opened them, I was standing on a windowsill, peering down at the cement sidewalk far below me. Looking at the pavement, something clicked in my mind, like discovering the answer to some unsolvable mystery, clarity broke through me like a rock through a window, and a feeling of serenity swelled up inside.

With that serene feeling pulsating through my body, I leaped from the seventh story of the Cheery Brooke Gazette building, and plummeted through the air towards the pavement.

The maddening thoughts and ideas were swept away like the wind over my body, a smile grew over my face, and tears flew into the air. Tears that are only shed when something so amazing and beautiful occurs, that only crying can truly express what one’s feeling at that precise moment, like when a father watches his wife give birth to their first born, or when a mother watches as her son walks across the stage to obtain his diploma.

In the end, I never knew what was real or not real. All I knew was that I was falling through the air, that my body was plunging down towards the sea of cement below, that it would smash against the surface, and my bones and organs would explode on impact, and I would be casted into oblivion.

But one thought, one single thought, never left the back of my mind: That it could all be a dream, that my entire life was conjured up by someone, or something, else. That when everything was said and done, I would open my eyes and find myself in bed, and go on living life, as I normally would.

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