Anglerfish

Humpback_Anglerfish_(Melanocetus_Johnsonii)They’re like anglerfish.

I’ll be the first to admit that this book is awful. Evil wouldn’t be the right word, as evil implies an agenda, and I’m not convinced it has one. I think the book just wants to be used. It doesn’t seem to care how you use it, but it definitely wants you to use it.

You’ll have to excuse me if I ramble a bit here. I tried to use the book awhile ago, and I…suffice to say it was a ‘life-altering’ experience. I haven’t been able to focus properly since then. No, that’s not right. I focus on some things more intently than I ever would have before, and other things I can’t focus on at all. Maybe it’s part of being so tired. I am so very, very tired. I try not to sleep if I can. If I do sleep, I try to be medicated. It doesn’t make it any better for me, but at least it’s quieter.

I’m so tired.

I still think we should look into destroying the book, but James won’t let me of course. He thinks keeping it is worth the risk, which I strongly disagree with, even after what happened last month.

Right. Last month. I was going to explain.

Where was I?

Yes: Anglerfish.

About a month ago, around the time James figured out how to send a message to Jess (I’ve included a copy of the letter here, since the book lies to us sometimes I think it might be a good idea to start leaving a record of our interactions with it), that’s when it started. I’m not sure if the timing is a coincidence or not, but I would be very surprised if it was. Whether that was the book’s ‘intention’ would be a very interesting discussion, and might sway my stance on the book being awful/evil.

I’m getting off topic again.

So about a month ago, it was a Saturday evening downtown and I was at a coffeeshop (I drink a lot of coffee these days) when I saw a guy. That I noticed him at all should have been the first indication that something was wrong. I don’t notice guys like that. Not that I don’t like boys, I just don’t really notice them out and about. If I’m thinking about guys then maybe I start to think about…you know what, this isn’t the important part.

There were other guys there of course, but not like this guy. He was absolutely beautiful, and preposterous phrases like ‘sculpted by the gods’ began popping into my head. I don’t think that way. I never have. When I saw him flirting with barista, I even felt my face go red and my teeth clench. Like I was jealous. Five seconds after seeing him, and I was jealous that I didn’t have his attention. Ridiculous!

He left with her. The manager tried to yell after her, saying her shift wasn’t over, but even he seemed distracted by the abnormally hot guy (I have no information on the manager’s sexual orientation). In the end, he grumbled and did nothing. He went to work the register in her stead.

Immediately after he was gone, I was chastising myself. I’m not some walking sack of hormones. Well, I am a teenager, but still: I don’t do that. I don’t get all moon-eyed over  boys. I simply don’t.

Later, I was at a party. I don’t really seem like a party girl, and I’m not. I don’t got to parties to dance or hook up. I’m there because I’m in highschool and that’s where my classmates pedal drugs. Not beer, depressants are the opposite of what I’m after. I go in for amphetamines when I don’t want to sleep (which is all the time) and caffeine isn’t getting the job done. Tranquilizers when I finally do have to sleep.

I’m eating through my savings paying for all this stuff. Trust me though, it’s worth it. If you took a look in my head during the dreams that aren’t dreams, feel the claws drag against your skin, and hear the things they whisper in your ears. You’d want to be high too.

He was there. The guy from the coffee shop was there, without the barista though. the second I saw him, all the alien feelings of infatuations and arousal came rushing back. It was like he was all I wanted in the whole world. Which was total bullshit and I knew it. I’ve been pretty much asexual since my dreams started, so I knew this wasn’t me.

I saw him hanging out around the edge of the party, near the door, smiling and flirting with the lovestruck women (and some men) who came to chat with him. Even I felt the pull coming from this guy, like I needed to go over and be near him. This made me sick. I mean physically sick.

I ran to the bathroom and puked up coffee and half-digested pills. I almost didn’t make it. Even as I felt the bile rising in my throat it was hard to run in a direction away from that guy. That made me feel even sicker.

I knelt over a filthy toilet bowl, letting my insides turn outside, and I have to say it’s amazing how quickly things turn around. A few months ago, I was the poster girl for good decisions. Never stayed out late, never lied to my parents, never broke any laws (except the occasional pirating of music). Flash forward, and I’m vomiting up a drug cocktail into the disgusting toilet of some high schooler’s drinking party. My grades are turning to shit too, and I was very close to being our class’s valedictorian before. I’m going to end up institutionalized like Will at this rate. If I could only sleep. I just want to sleep so badly. I’m so tired. Even right now, I’m so fucking tired.

I was just about done dry heaving when I heard a girl’s scream, which was cut short. It had come from outside, around the back of the building, and the bathroom had a window overlooking that area.

I scrambled up on top of the toilet, trying not to think of the vomit still filling the bowl, and looked out to see…I’m still not sure what I saw exactly. Even now, after it’s done, I’m not sure. I’m also not sure if maybe that’s not for the best.

Two girls were dead, that much I remember clearly. Something had ripped them open.

Something was eating them.

The guy was there too, he wasn’t dead and he wasn’t the one eating them. He was just standing there, limply, like a zombie. Even then I could still feel hints of that erotic pull that had driven me to vomit in the first place. But all he was doing was standing, staring blanking into the distance, while something was sucking organs out of a girls open chest like….I don’t have an appropriate analogue for it.

I couldn’t see it exactly. I don’t think it can be seen, in the sense of light bouncing off surfaces and hitting photoreceptors in your eyes. I guess you could say it was more of an impression.

Hunger. Animal hunger, and the freezing cold of the grave.

It was familiar, in the worst way.

I freaked out. Panicked. I scrambled back from the window before the thing could see me. I slipped and fell, cracking my head on the floor.

When I woke up, three or four people were trying to hold me as I thrashed and screamed. I shoved and yelled and cried for a long while. I don’t like sleeping anymore.

By the time I was done, the police had arrived. My screams had been the first thing that got people dialing 9-1-1, but once the bodies out back had been spotted, people had really started panicking. The police had shown up in force because of the deluge of 9-1-1 calls, and they were busy enough trying to keep people from fleeing that I had the time to focus in and flush my pills before they got to the bathroom.

I’m already under suspicion from the police, ever since Jess disappeared. I didn’t need drug charges to make me look even worse.

I ended up detained and questioned mostly because I was at a party with alcohol as a minor, but the cops were far more interested in the dead bodies than anything else. I blew into a breathalyzer, which declared me sober, but they still called my parents.

When I finally made it home, my family was livid with me. “Ruining your future.” “Squandering your potential.” “How could you do this to us.”

I didn’t care. I let it come, and I didn’t say much back. Nothing I remember. It wasn’t important.

What was important, is what I had seen through that bathroom window.

When I finally got back to my room, I went to the spot where I hide the book. I keep it….well maybe I shouldn’t say where.

I took it out of hiding, and looked for something, anything, inside that could explain what I saw. The book is completely jumbled though. Things trail off sometimes, then pick up randomly elsewhere. Sometimes the book is totally unreadable, like it was scratched out in gibberish or code. Other times it’s as clear as if it was typed. Sometimes that’s the same page, depending on when you look. And sometimes, the book just lies.

I hate when it lies.

I can’t sleep because it lies.

I went from page to page. I would flip till I felt like I should stop, glance through, and then keep going. Most of what I saw was nonsense, a lot of babbling about the ‘Outside,’ but all through this reading I kept seeing a word pop up. Over and over again. Sometimes it was in the lines on a page, sometimes it was scribbled in the margins or between lines. ‘Fire.’

Sometime (but not all the time) if you read the book with a question in mind, and you focus on it hard, you can get the book to answer you.

The technical term is stichomancy: divination by random selection of lines or words. At least, that’s what it seems like. You think hard on your question, and I think it needs to be a simple one, you flip through the pages, and you get an answer.

I wanted to know what I should do.

The book was answering me.

I spent the next few days in planning and preparation. I don’t like to do things without a plan in mind.

When I was ready, I started looking for the guy. I had intended to ask around about him, but it occurred to me that I couldn’t actually come up with a description of the man. Was he slim or stocky? Tall or short? White or black? I couldn’t say. The only words I had to describe him were “an impossibly attractive man.” I was beginning to worry that I wouldn’t recognize him, even if I did ever see him again.

I did though.

At another party, three weeks later. He was there, hanging around the edges, flirting with girls again. I needed him alone, or nearly alone, and in a place that was cramped would be better. He was surrounded by those he’d caught in his aura. I assume it was some kind of aura, I’m still not sure how it works, and I’m leery of doing too much research into it with the book. However he did it, he had some way of luring people to him. I needed to lure him.

I marched up to him, pushing past his ring of admirers. I could feel the pull getting stronger and stronger as I came closer to him. My whole body was shaking as I walked up, and I kissed him.

I don’t think he was expecting that. He seemed to jump as I did it, but his jump felt wrong, like it came from the wrong muscles of his body. I could tell when I was close enough to touch him. I grabbed his hand, and I pulled him towards the bathroom. I giggled and rambled like I was drunk and horny, and while at the time I remember he was speaking back, being incredibly witty and wonderful, I honestly could not tell you what he said. If he actually said anything at all.

He was so witty, so charming, that I had second thoughts on the way to the bathroom. Was I wrong? Had I been seeing things? Was I falling for more of the book’s lies?

I noticed though, that in the wake of this guy, as we walked through the party towards the first floor bath (this party was at somebody’s house) people seemed to move without knowing it. He had a wake in the crowd behind him. Too big to be for him, and too consistent to be an accident.

I was right. I had to be.

I pushed him into the bathroom in front of me, letting the bag I had brought with me to the party fall near the door (after pulling a cord inside it). The bathroom was huge, built for a family, but it felt crowded with just the two of us in there, and I was sure I knew why.

I held my head and mumbled something about needed just a bit of air. I went and started to pull open the window. That’s when I saw it. Truly saw it. In the reflection of the window pane. My god How could I have been so blind!? I could see it tensing to strike, but I had already made my move, it was too late for that thing.

The second the window was even barely open, I dove through. I heard something almost like hissing as I did, but that was quickly drowned out by a BANG from my bag, discarded by the door.

Nothing huge, just a small incendiary. It’s amazing what you can build with simple tools and google search. I scrambled away from the house, feeling the heat on my back. There was a crash of glass behind me and I spun around to look.

The ‘guy’ was on the ground below the window. A limp and lifeless rag-doll that went flailing through the air, slamming into the ground and the walls around window. Back in the bathroom, now engulfed in flames (fueled even further by all the cleaning chemicals in there) the real creature, the one holding the line on the lure, burned and screeched, slamming its bulk into the wall. Too big to slip out the window.

I waited a short time. Listening to that monstrous scream, and the shouting of classmates as they ran out of the house, and the sirens coming down the road. I only left when the screaming stopped, and the thing that had been the handsome guy seemed to shrivel and vanish.

It was like an anglerfish. A bright and shiny lure, that brings in the food.

I’m not sure if it’s dead, but it did convince me that the book wasn’t evil. I still think, good or evil, we should be looking into a way to get rid of it. But if it was evil, why would it tell me how to hurt that thing? James says that the book might be trying to get us to trust it, and I have to admit, that is a possibility. I don’t know if I’ll ever be certain. Except about one thing.

I still hate sleeping, and I avoid it whenever I can. But if I have to sleep, and I don’t have the tranquilizers to dampen everything, and I’m stuck in that dream that isn’t a dream. When I’m surrounded and helpless. When I feel the claws on my skin and the whispers in my ear and all the other things they do when I’m there. I think back to that anglerfish, screaming as it burned.

And it makes me feel just a little bit better.

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One Response to Anglerfish

  1. Sientir says:

    I really liked the way the narrator rambled in the first part of this story. It does a great job of getting the reader into her jumbled mental state. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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