Saturday morning, there were long smudges on the glass of my front door. Three, thick, semi-parallel smudges from what looked like fingers. They trailed from the middle of the door down to its base, then disappeared. If they were from an animal, it wasn’t any animal I knew about. If they were from a person, he was unfathomably deformed.
An hour later, I discovered nine dead deer behind my garage. Their eyes, sexual organs, and teeth were missing. I called animal control and was told there were mutilated animals being reported all over the county. They had no explanation, but I was assured the carcasses would be picked up before the weekend was over.
As I hung up, I heard something in the background on the phone line.
While I endeavored to shake the fear that had gripped me, I sat and tried to watch television. The picture was distorted. I flipped from channel to channel, only to encounter the same problem with the signal. For a moment, I thought I could make out something in the static interlacing the normal programming.
Gooseflesh prickled my skin and my focus grew intense. I walked to the television and stared, trying to peer through the frames to whatever was on the other side. The distortion intensified and a form grew from the static.
I realized the sound from the television had changed from the clipped, broken broadcast audio to waves of white noise. I heard nothing else. No birds, no insects, no hum of household electronics. Just the white noise and the pounding of my heartbeat in my ears.
I was fixated on the shape. I couldn’t determine what it was, but there was no doubt it was organic. It moved and undulated, getting closer to the screen before backing off. I was so close to the television I could see the pores in my skin reflected off the glossy surface. It distracted me momentarily. That was all it took; I saw something else reflected. Something behind me.
I whirled around and saw four of the dead deer propped up on the floor. They were arranged and stacked in an X shape; hooves to hooves. How they were able to hold that position was beyond me. The abyssal cavities of their empty eye sockets stared at nothing.
There was a sound in the kitchen and I jumped. As if startled as well, the deer toppled over in a sickening tangle of limbs.
More noise from the adjacent room. Wet slapping. The breath caught in my throat and every old scar on my body, even the invisible ones, began to hurt. Pain radiated in waves, but never strongly enough to overtake the overwhelming terror and dread I felt.
Three long, fleshy objects poked around the corner. I knew immediately they were fingers. They waved in a sickening, serpentine pattern. Clusters of tiny, fungus-like eyestalks twitched at the end of each one. I wanted to run. I still don’t know why I didn’t.
The rest of its body came around the corner. It was a wide, quadrupedal creature. Its one arm remained outstretched with the long fingers extended, as if seeing and tasting the air. A cavernous hole opened at the center of its bulk. The ray of sunlight in which it stood clearly showed me countless moving parts within the hole, making me think of some sickening biological clockwork.
The fingers moved toward my face and I could smell their musty, rotten-mushroom aroma. I stared into the maw of the thing as the parts inside moved against each other, producing a terrifyingly-calming white noise. I opened my mouth to speak, but the three fingers slipped between my lips and pushed down my throat. I gagged and tried to escape, but I was being held in place. I could feel the eye-like protuberances growing down my esophagus. The creature walked toward me, the hole in its body opening wider.
From this new, closer view, I could see the inside was filled with what could only be described as pieces resembling the legs of crickets and grasshoppers, all moving together to produce the wash of white noise that had filled the room. But as I gagged and struggled to free myself, the sound changed. The movements in the hole shifted.
At first, it sounded like the white noise was growing harsher. But as the seconds passed, the timbre shifted toward something resembling speech. After another moment, that was exactly what it was.
“Eight more of your days. We’ve tasted your animals, and now we know them. I’ve tasted your body, and now I know you.”
I gasped as I felt tendrils squirming deeper inside me. A light outside began to glow dull red. I heard my next-door neighbor shriek from out in her yard.
“You can be us soon. Can you taste me?”
Pores in its fingers erupted and filled my mouth and esophagus and belly with thick, gray liquid. My eyes widened. The flavor was indescribable. The red light outside intensified.
“Eight more days.”
The fingers were pulled from my throat and I fell onto the hardwood floor. The light grew blinding, then it was gone. The creature was gone. Flies buzzed around the deer carcasses.
Fluid dripped down my chin and chest as I knelt and tried to right myself. The words, “eight days” remained in my head.
My hands and fingers were numb. I glanced down and was positive the digits were longer than they had been. And now, almost two days later, it’s indisputable. This hospital is full of patients with “unexplained deformities” to their hands, as well as “inexplicable growths” in their mouths. Amidst the confusion and barely-managed hysteria, the sound of white noise is mixing in with the raised voices.
Tiny sprouts are starting to lift the fingernails from their nail beds on my right hand. Even when my eyes are closed, I’m beginning to see things from the perspective of that hand. See and taste. Six more days, if the creature was telling the truth. Six days. As the sound of white noise begins to overtake the normal speech, I find myself growing less concerned with every passing moment. Less concerned, and more excited.