What I’ve Seen

Chapter 4

Mom and dad looked on as I swallowed a small, beige pill with a gulp of orange juice. I wasn’t to expect any effects of the drug to be noticed for a week or two. Hearing that disappointed me a little. I was hoping to have all this end right away, as soon as the pill disappeared down my throat.

We watched 101 Dalmations on the little TV and ate some freezer-burned ice cream. Afterward, mom kissed me goodbye and told me dad would stay the night. She needed to go to work early the next morning. When she left, dad took a quick shower, donned his flannel bathrobe, and sat down in the chair next to my bed. We started to watch The Happiest Millionaire. He was snoring within ten minutes. An hour later, I was asleep.

Late at night, I was startled awake by an odd, whimpering sound. I opened my eyes and looked out over the right side of my bed. My friend stood there like an obsidian pillar, her gaze directed not at me, but in the direction of where my father was sleeping. Her bituminous flesh was being touched by a faint, dark red light. The sound persisted. I turned around, dragging my heavy, exhausted face over the pillow, and saw my dad, still sitting in his chair, breathing heavily.

As my eyes gradually acclimated to the dim light, I was able to see in greater detail. Dad was sweating. I could see it pouring down his forehead, over his closed eyes, and down to his lips and neck. Dad’s bathrobe began to shift. He hadn’t stirred or moved anything aside from the heaving motion of his chest as he breathed. Fine, red lines dropped from somewhere above him and his robe opened fully. I snapped my head upward.

Before a scream had completed its leap from my throat into the world, the black woman’s hand was covering my mouth. I pulled and jerked, trying to get away to call for help, but she was impossibly strong. “Let it happen,” she spoke directly into my mind, “and he won’t be killed.” Utterly helpless, I was forced to stare in near silence; the only sounds being my snorting, panicked breaths and my father’s whimpering.

Above dad, extruding filaments of gossamer which pulsed with crimson bioluminescence, was a hole. I’d never seen anything like it. It was a six foot sphere of blackness taking the place of the air and ceiling above him. And from that sphere grew glowing strings.

The strings extended outward and down, traveling over dad’s face, chest, and stomach, until they reached his groin. In abject horror, I stared as they began to slide, one by one, into his penis. The glow of the tendrils underwent a brief process of intensification as they pushed deeper into him. I nearly lost consciousness when I saw his scrotum bulge as the tendrils moved inside, their glow illuminating the veins in his skin. Time passed with glacial speed as hundreds of the things with the combined diameter of a pencil invaded my father. Sickening undulations below his skin waxed and waned. The only consolation was that he didn’t seem to be in pain; he sweated and breathed in heavy, sobbing heaves, but I was hoping, in his mind, it was nothing more than a nightmare.

I couldn’t watch what they were doing to him any longer and my friend was still holding me tightly, preventing me from moving or screaming. My eyes drifted toward the void from which the filaments came. Now fully acclimated to the dark room, I could see that the hole wasn’t completely black. I was shocked to see that there were stars shining within. Last summer, Dad and I spent many nights out in the backyard with the beautiful, expensive telescope he’d won in a contest at work. As an astronomy buff, he was excited to point out all the constellations and planets. He was so proud of me for remembering every single one of them. But the weak glow of the stars shining within the void were parts of no constellations I’d ever seen. There didn’t appear to be any discernable order to the pinpricks of light at all, aside from a few obvious binary and ternary systems.

Not knowing if it would work, I furiously thought, “I’m not going to scream or touch anything, I just want to look.” The black woman’s grasp loosened. Her right hand remained wrapped around my wrist, not entirely trusting me, but willing to give me the benefit of the doubt. I stood on my bed and walked around, looking into the gulf of stars. From a vantage point at the foot of my bed, I saw what might have been a planet, but not one I’d ever seen in books or on that Carl Sagan show dad liked to watch with me.

Whatever it was, it terrified me. At one point in its history, it might have been a normal sphere. But some colossal force had cleaved it into multiple, chaotic chunks that remained clustered together by its hideously powerful gravity well. The surface was blanketed by what I could only describe as frozen, rotting flesh. It had grown like pustulent rime, first within the cracks and interstices between the largest chunks of rock, and then over the main, cratered surfaces. In the craters, volcanoes ejaculated jets of putrid-looking yellow gas which quickly coalesced and froze into pebbles which rained on the ground below.

With blinding violence, my arm was yanked downward and I collapsed onto the bed. My body was held and my mouth, again, was covered. Pain radiated through my shoulder like I’d been stabbed. As I yelled under the black hand, I felt her other one grab my shoulder and push forward and up. I felt a pop and the pain quickly diminished. A dull ache replaced the sensation, but my attention shifted to my father. The things were leaving him. One by one, they extricated themselves from his anatomy and slithered their way back into the void from which they came.

Once the last one had disappeared, the void collapsed in on itself, leaving a tiny singularity of bright light before blinking out. The dark room was normal again and my friend let me go. Dad awoke with a gasp and twisted his head back and forth, as if looking for the assailants he believed had visited him in his nightmare. He saw me staring at him and forced a calming smile. He looked down and noticed his robe had been open. “Whoops,” he said, covering up. “Sorry you had to wake up to that!” He got up and walked over to the bathroom. As he relieved himself, he made pained, grunting sounds. He flushed, washed his hands, and came over to me.

“Remind me to ask your mom to pick up some cranberry juice tomorrow,” he told me. He kissed my forehead and sat back down. We turned on the TV and watched some old cowboy and indian movie from when he was a kid. He went back to sleep with little effort. I locked my glare on the stygian eyes of my friend. “You have to tell me what’s going to happen,” I thought at her.

“I will, but only in pieces small enough for you to digest,” she replied. “And starting now, you have to ignore everything that only you can see.”

“Including you?” My question felt hollow and pained. I couldn’t stand to act like my friend, my protector, wasn’t actually there. But I knew she had to have a point. If I wanted to get better, at least in the eyes of those who were trying to help me, I couldn’t keep talking about crazy, impossible creatures.

”Including me,” came the answer, “for another nine months.”

While I tried to figure out what could happen in that period of time, she interrupted my thought process.

”As I told you, things will get worse. Events beyond any comprehensible level of evil will take place. And even as they do, you have to stay silent.”

And with that, she was gone. It was only then did my scream peal throughout the room, rousing my father and causing a nurse to rush in. When they begged me to tell them what was wrong, all I could do was apologize.