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Tendrils: A Short Story

The one voice sounded like hundreds.

Some yelling in anger.

Some screaming in pain or fright.

Some with unbearable grief caught in their throats.

Some with a soft lilt.

you are well and truly fucked. you understand this, right?

I took a step back. Another. Another. I was against the wall.

you understand this, do you not?

The voice wanted an answer.

More insistent: do you understand me?

I drew a long, slow, and deep breath. I hesitated. I needed to sound strong, and not squeak out a reply.

“No,” I finally said. “No.”

no?

I crossed and uncrossed my arms. “No.”

YOU HAVE CHALLENGED ME

The voice surrounded me.

THAT WILL PROVE TO BE A MISTAKE

The voice enveloped me.

YOU WILL UNDERSTAND

And it rose, glowing in anger, casting a blood red glow about my living room. I slid right as his eyes tracked me. Perhaps I could make it to a window and make an escape.

STAY

A tendril, somehow glowing in sleek obsidian, shot forth. I dodged. It struck the wall next to my head, missing by mere inches.

you will stay

Another black tendril. This one had apparently slid across the floor, unbeknownst to me, and slid up my back to wrap around my neck and lift me off the floor. you will stay

My breath came only in short, ragged gasps. I grabbed the tendril with both hands and tried to pull it away from my neck.

you will STAY

My feet dangled a nearly a meter from the floor. I had no breath left. The world began to fade.

.

.

.

.

I held my daughter for the first time. Her eyes flickered open and locked with mine.

.

.

Her eyes locked with mine.

“You’re a hypocrite, Dad,” she shouted, her cheeks stained by cheers. “A hypocrite!”

I balled my fist and slammed it into

.

.

the mirror. I held the refracted, fractured gaze of my doppelganger. I glanced down at my bloodied fist and ever so gingerly pulled the shard of glass from my knuckle. I looked up again at the sad, broken face before me and

.

.

and said

.

.

.

“enough”

.

.

.

enough of this

.

With nothing left in me, I still managed to grab the tendril and

.

.

.

.

.

I pulled. I pulled

with one shrill voice it said: no stop

I pulled harder than I thought possible

NO STOP

I suddenly found myself a heap on the floor. The tendril haphazardly waved about above me.

.

Slowly, I managed to stand.

Though all I could muster was a hoarse whisper, I said: “Enough.”

The red glow became purple then blue and finally began to fade back into the dark. I braced myself against the wall. I looked out the window, spotted with rain.


“Enough.”

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