Lightning cracks, sending an electric pulse through me. It’s getting closer, almost here. The wall seeps dark, oily liquid. The engine must be on the other side. My heart pounds, my breath quickens. I need to calm down or I’m going to hyperventilate. Eyes closed, I concentrate on each breath. Slowly inhale. Slowly exhale. I’m so tired, but I can’t rest. I have to warn the others.
I saw them. I saw them. Oh, help me, I saw them. They’ve disguised themselves to look like humans, passing themselves off as us for years. But when you look just past them or catch a glimpse of them just outside of your line of sight, the illusion fades. I know their secret. They want to take over our bodies, destroy our minds, and cast out our souls.
Tramping sounds echo in the distance. This might be my only chance. I must escape now.
My skin grows clammy. My chest tightens as I creep towards the door. A low-grade buzz fills the air. I freeze. That’s how they communicate over long distances. They’re just outside the door. I misjudged!
“Where’d he go?”
“Search everywhere, we’ve got to find him.”
“Don’t worry, he won’t escape.”
I can’t swallow, my throat’s dry. My pulse races as I frantically search for a weapon. A long red umbrella with a pointed tip hangs from a spike. I snatch it and clutch it to my chest. It’s not much, but I will make it work.
After a quick prayer, I open the door a crack and peek into the hallway. Only one creature. Huge insectoid eyes shimmer blackish-purple. Hundreds of whip-like worms cover its head writhing in sync to an unheard rhythm.
I can’t wait. Time to go.
Bursting through the door, wielding the umbrella like a pirate’s cutlass, I scream and charge. The creature’s eyes widen. It spins to the side. I swing my umbrella up, then down with a smack. The monster whirls, grasps my weapon, and yanks it out of my hand, its strength and reflexes surprising.
More creatures descend on me, grasp me, hold me, and push me down. A finger on one of those things grows a long sharp talon. It jabs me. Heat sears up my arm. Pain grips me. My breath erratic, my vision blurry, I sink, no longer able to fight.
Red lines streak from the puncture wound. My arm numb, my shoulder tingles, I’m dying.
My heartbeat slows. My breathing eases. My vision…focuses.
Dappled ceiling squares with long fluorescent fixtures. White light, white walls, white uniforms. Familiar faces.
“Mr. Haden, can you hear me? William, it’s all right. You missed your meds. Everything will be okay now.”
Originally published on Flashes in the Dark.