Okay, so I'm walking home from work. It's dark out. Long shadows in the streets between the safe havens of the street lights. Creaky gates at the lumber yard no more than fifty feet away from my house making noise that I can hear at least two blocks away. Nobody else is out, to my knowledge, but I've got my knife sitting snugly in that little coin pocket located on the right side of my jeans. You know, the pocket you don't actually put coins in because you know you'll never get them all out again.
I'm feeling relatively safe as I stroll down the sidewalk, earbuds in each ear and the soothing sounds of Voltaire's "Riding a Black Unicorn" filling my head (Yes, I like Voltaire. Don't judge me.). Then I come to the intersection. A vast expanse of asphault, a veritable ocean of tar lying between me and my destination. Some nights, when the streets are dead and there's no one driving, I like to stand in the middle of the intersection for a while and look up at the sky, or if it's winter, watch the snowflakes drifting lazily down under the yellow glow of the streetlamps. Quite magical indeed.
Tonight, though, I'm cutting right across. It's raining, and I don't have my umbrella. It's not a torrential downpour, granted, but it's not a light sprinkle, either. It's that stage between where you can walk around thinking "Hey, this isn't so bad," only to find when you get to where you're going that you're soaked.
I'm not sure at what point I noticed the headlights bearing down on me, but when I looked up I could've sworn they were mere inches from my hip. I am sure that in the next instant, I felt something slap me in the chest hard enough that I went flying, nearly landing with my back on the curb (which I'm sure would've broken a few vertebrae, at least), but safely out of the path of the truck that probably would've made a nice [Moral]-colored stain all over the intersection.
The truck comes to a screeching halt a second later, the midsection resting exactly where I would've been standing. Way too late, had I not been pushed out of the way. Or bitch-slapped out of the way, as the case may be. Actually, while I knew the nausea I was feeling could've been attributed to nearly becoming a hood ornament, which isn't exactly one of my childhood dreams, I had a sinking feeling it had more to do with the tall, well-dressed, faceless man who was peeking over the other side of the truck at me, head cocked quizzically to the side and one little tendril just snaking it's way back out of sight over his shoulder. At that moment, one thought ran through my head:
But I couldn't run. I think Gargoyle explained best here, in 'Layer 3 - Perception Barriers':
"Another instance is an apparent ability to stop an individual dead in
their tracks. Causing the body to simply lock up and be either extremely
difficult or damn near impossible to move." - Quoted from Beneath Stone Skies "So You Wanna Punch Out the Construct?" (I hope he doesn't sue me).
Basically, he had me in a lock, and he had me good. I figured I was as good as dead. I read somewhere that when he's going in for the kill, his tentacles or 'arms' or whatever are all out, ready to rip you apart, so by that logic, I should've been fine. No more than two arms; I was 'safe.'
Whoever wrote that nugget of information: Fuck you. You go stand in front of the Blank himself, your body locked, completely helpless, and tell me that the first thought running through your head isn't to the general tune of "OHFUCKOHFUCKOHFUCKIAMGOINGTODIEOHFUCK". Then you can talk about being 'perfectly safe' unless you see more than two 'arms'.
Anyways, I was broken out of my pants-wetting fear by the guy in the truck, who had practically kicked his door open, grabbed me by the collar, and dragged me to my feet. Imagine my surprise when he was the angry one. Him. The guy who had nearly run me over. While he was yelling the longest string of expletives I've ever heard (guy was probably a sailor), I glanced at his hand. He was holding onto his phone, which was displaying a 'call ended' timer. The son of a bitch had nearly run me over while talking on his phone, and he was angry? Fuck that shit.
So we started to argue quite heatedly, and despite the fact that there was a church that I think may have been having a service just on the other side of the street, we were both using language unsuitable for the ears of young children; he was shouting something along the lines of "WATCH THE GODDAMN ROAD, YOU LONG-HAIRED LITTLE FUCK!" I was only marginally more polite. Marginally. I can't remember most of what I said; I was still battling the nausea and headache that everyone's favorite faceless stalker was causing.
Then the bastard hit me. It may have had something to do with what I was saying about his mother at the time, but there's no way of knowing for certain now. One minute I'm standing arguing with him, the next minute I'm back on the ground, a pretty good imprint of his fist on my cheek and at least one loose tooth. I started to get up, but I was paralyzed again.
"What the fu-!?"
That was the last thing the man said before a long, slender black tendril gagged him, wrapping around his neck and cutting off his air. Two more grabbed his arms and lifted him into the air. I could feel the anger coming off of the thing, and I wanted nothing more than to run, but he held me firmly in place with that mental lock of his. Another set of 'arms' wrapped around the poor guy's ankles.
Ever heard of 'drawing and quartering'? Well, back in the good old days, those accused of high treason would be hung until nearly dead before being disemboweled and cut into four pieces. A more modern interpretation I've seen shows the criminal having each limb tied to a different horse. The horses then run in different directions, pulling the victim apart. The latter is much closer to what I saw. There was no real resistance; just a loud, wet ripping noise and the splatter of blood and organs onto the ground.
Then he just stood there, 'staring' at me. Stupid as it sounds, I feel like he was telling me that I had a purpose in whatever sick plot he has. Like he was showing me that if I hadn't had a purpose, I would end up just like this poor bastard who was...suddenly whole again at his feet. Dead as a doorknob, yes, but whole. I could just barely see little lines of black stitching him together; his 'arms' at work again. But why bother?
I understood when the body stood up, moving like some jerky, stop-motion animation, got into the truck, and proceeded to drive it into the wall of the post office kitty-corner from the church. I've never been one for loud, sudden noises, so when the airbag went off, I flinched big time. When I opened my eyes again, surprise! I was alone. Just me and a totaled truck driven by a dead man. So I did what any sane person would do in that sort of situation: I threw up and passed out.
Long story short, I woke up in my room the next morning. The accident received surprisingly little attention; they chalked it up to some moron talking on his phone while driving home, even though his wife insists he'd hung up before the accident. I haven't come forward with any information, obviously. Who would believe that a faceless Eldritch Abomination killed a man and puppeteered his corpse into an accident? The police who would believe that are either the ones in the cult that worship this thing or the ones that are in the government organization trying to cover his movements up, keep him out of public eye.
So I've been lying awake, losing sleep over it. It's not some cliche about 'seeing it every time I close my eyes.' In fact, I haven't really thought about the dead man much at all. Yeah, it was a gruesome way to die, and I wouldn't wish it on my enemies (okay, that's a lie), but it's been completely overshadowed by the thought that I was saved by this monster. Not only does this mean that I owe it something, but it also means it has a reason to keep me alive. Whether that reason fits into some big master plan or just that he's not done fucking with my life quite yet, I don't know.
It sure as hell keeps me up at night, though.