I awoke to find Sofia gone. I’d slept right through the day and into the evening hours. It was night again and I was back on the move. I pulled the brim of my baseball cap down over my eyes, as I looked through the rain and into the distance ahead, to see bright lights. Lights that reminded me of the lights that used to stream into the night air from a nearby high school football field, near our house. I was fairly certain, no one was playing football on this field. The Visitors were interstellar terrorists. The ultimate disruptors of social habits and daily routine. I decided it would be better to avoid the lights altogether by walking as far away from them as I could. I hadn’t heard any of the sounds or seen any movement along the tree line of the road for the last couple of days since I’d left the farmhouse.
Up ahead, the pass of road was narrowing. Both sides were decorated with the prickly fur of wooded areas hanging around the loose neck of the road and its drooped shoulders. The damp asphalt bent and curved out into the distance. The center line marker drew it’s ink from my position to a fine point just beyond the furthest curve of the road. As I now intensely listened to the woods, I finally noticed the lack of normal night time sounds – no owls, crickets, or frogs – the quiet was heavy with tension. I heard the noises of the night unnaturally silenced.
I heard my name on a soft whisper, coming from my right. I scanned the tree line for the source. “Mekhi.” When I saw her I let out a sigh of relief from an unconscious realization that she hadn’t completely abandoned me. Sofia was imploring me to come to her. She spoke in a hushed scream, “Come quickly! Follow me.” Leading me by the hand, we snaked around trees and bushes. All kinds of internal alarm bells were going off in my head, but I couldn’t process them to any real effect. I knew this was a place I should not be, but I didn’t want to lose her again.
We came to a clearing where the moonlight shown all the way down to the slick, green carpet of the woods. The bushes and trees to the right of me shook and then settled. Directly in front of us, the bushes and branches began to move. The hulking forms of three Visitors stepped out of the darkness and surrounded us. I quickly jerked my head to look at Sofia. She stood there looking at me forlornly. My eyes flattened as anger raced up my back. I twisted up my lips and reached out for her. My hand passed right through her as she faded away. I stood in shock and slowly I began to laugh, even more so, uncontrollably. The Visitors stood bewildered. Sofia had been nothing more than a creation of my own lonely mind. I dropped to my knees, filling every vacant space of the woods with the madness of my laughter. The hysteria subsided while I scanned the wet earth. My face, which was contorted by my bizarre and stretched expression, reshaped itself into approaching despair.
Hopping to my feet, I dashed between two of the Visitors. Tentacles darted overhead with agility and precision. I ducked them and ran deeper into the woods. I could hear the sounds of cracking and splintering trees falling behind me. The thunderous steps of each Visitor echoed in the shaking earth. I zigzagged, darting in and around groupings of trees and bushes while tentacles and hands snatched up earth near me.
I heard a shrill sound behind me. Instinctively, I clapped my hands to my ears to block it as I fell over some bushes. The vegetation masked a huge and dramatically steep drop that I tumbled down. I flipped over face forward, barely missing trees as I sped along, twisting and contorting my body to avoid them. White hot pain shot up through the nerves in my arm, as it twisted in the socket from momentarily catching on a tree root, as I sledded downhill. A anguished scream erupted from my mouth as my brain bit on the electrocution of the pain. As my body came to a stop at the base of the hill, I lie there, wet and covered in leaves.
The math of the rain fell in patterns of drops onto my face, as the water coalesced into rivers covering my nose and mouth. I squinted and twisted my lips up and out of the soft earth to take in greedy gasps of air. “Come on, Dad! Get up!” I could see my oldest son kneeling in front of me. He stood there looking at me like he did after a hug before bed to be followed by, “Good night dad. See you in the murning. I love you.” Despite the fact we’d said, “good night,” an hour ago, he’d be back up and running around five more times for various made up reasons to resist sleep.
Slightly disoriented, I rose to my feet and stumbled through the woods. The pain shooting through my arm was constant and nagging. Through my blurred eye sight, I caught glimpses of my son, ahead of me, as he ran past trees, before finally disappearing into the lights, shining ahead of me.
My arm hung raggedly, from my shoulder with what I can only describe as a boneless type of movement. As I approached the lights, I realized I was headed into the football field, I spied earlier. Holding my injured arm, I collapsed onto the field, like an open sack of potatoes, tumbling over one another onto the chef’s chopping block.
As I lie there face down, I began to feel a presence nearby. If it was the Visitors, I didn’t have the energy or will to care. Sensing their approach, I felt hands, human hands, looping themselves underneath my body. Someone was attempting to lift me up. I looked up to see a woman and a young man.
“Here, let us help you,” she said. As they stood me up, I began to look around after taking several steps forward. I could barely focus on anything while my mind struggled to process the images of people; people everywhere that my eyes were seeing. After the episode with my wife – with Sofia, and my son’s appearance, I wasn’t sure any of this was real and that I wasn’t at the bottom of the drop still lying in the rain.
“Help me lay him down over here.” I heard her say. A cup was then placed near my lips. I focused to slow my breathing just enough to feel the water flow over the cracked and dry terrain of my throat. In my dazed and confused state I imagined the hand, that was holding the water, was a tentacle – a Visitor tentacle. It would be the last thought I had as I passed into unconsciousness.
by malakhai jonezs
© copyright 2016