Gord’s heavy steps echoed throughout the factory as he followed the blue paw prints. With his flashlight guiding him, Gord made his way through the warehouse. The paw prints seemed to take quick and bizarre turns of direction. At times the prints were spaced far apart like the cat was running.

Other times they were so close together the blue paint smudged, creating more of a blue smear than paw prints. Most bizarre, though—even to Gord—was how the blue paint never seemed to diminish in volume. Each step the animal took looked as if it had a fresh coat of paint to accompany it.

With his flashlight focused solely on the paw prints, Gord had no idea how far he’d walked through the factory. But after a great deal of effort, he’d finally reached the end of the line. The prints came to a sudden end, leaving him standing somewhere in the pitch black factory.

“How do ya figure that?” Gord said aloud to himself. Only the words sounded more like “Ow yager at,” due to the growing lumps in his mouth and his ever fattening lips.

The cat seemed to have vanished, but Gord’s mind was already somewhere else. He looked around with his flashlight but had no idea where he was. The machines which surrounded him were unfamiliar. They had an alien geometry to them, with impossible angles jutting in irregular directions. If Gord knew anything about modern art, he might’ve taken these machines for some sort of futuristic exhibit. But being ignorant to culture of any kind, he instead tried to rationalize their existence as working parts of the factory. How they could possibly work with such a structure or what their function was, he didn’t know. But what most concerned him at this juncture wasn’t the bizarre machines, missing cat, or the mysterious blue paint. It was the sudden arrival of ground-shaking stomps through the pitch black void behind him.

“Hhh… Lo,” he barely managed to croak out. His tongue was now a grotesque, swollen hunk of lumpy blue meat. If Gord were able to look into a mirror, he would no longer recognize the thing looking back as himself.

The thumping grew louder and an acrid wind blew Gord a few steps backward. Instead of fear, though, a sense of wonder came over him. As if his brain were no longer capable of producing the electric signals to induce fear. And so he pushed through the putrid air and charged forward into the night.

He moved as quickly as he could but his legs were heavier than normal. And when he attempted to raise the flashlight to expose the cause of the ruckus, he found his arm was unable to go any higher than his waist.

“Wh—”

A deafening roar rumbled through his body and sent Gord to the floor. Unable to brace himself with his heavy limbs, he landed hard with his head smacking off the concrete with a sickening thud. Thick fog washed over him as he sank deep into nothingness, submerged in the bottomless waters of his damaged mind. The blackness that surrounded him seemed almost dungeon like, with a monstrous beast waiting for him in the shadows—breathing heavy, salivating, and ready to feast.

Disoriented and nauseous, Gord shook his head side to side. His eyes were able to refocus as the fog started to clear, but a throbbing pain shot up in its place. A great pressure built up behind his eyeballs and he could feel a strong pulsation of blood pressing against his optic nerves.

A sticky wetness weighed his already large cranium down as he attempted to sit up. With much strain, Gord managed to get one of his lumpy hands up to the back of his head. There was a large egg protruding from the wet spot; it was hard and numb to the touch.

“Oh, boy,” he muttered. Only the words came out a garbled mess. His mouth had swelled to the point where it was getting hard to breath.

Another blast of putrid air stung his nostrils like he’d taken a whiff of ammonia. A quick surge of burning fire shot to his brain, resurrecting him from his concussed stupor. Once again aware of his surroundings, Gord was confronted by a creature only seen in the hellish visions of madmen. If it weren’t for the repulsive stench emanating from its bloated purplish flesh, he might’ve thought the whole night was a long, awful nightmare. Of course, his imagination was never creative enough to craft such an elaborate beast.

“What are you?” he asked in an almost unintelligible gurgle.

“I am you. I am all. I am the monster that resides in every man—hiding in the darkness of the soul.” The creature spoke with a serpent’s hiss. And even though it was some distance away, its odor was unbearable. Even to Gord’s swollen blue nose.

“I—”

“Silence!” The creature’s voice boomed throughout the silent factory. “It is time you become one of us Gord Stimpson. It is time you become one with the darkness.”

With that, a sharp blue hoof stepped forward and broke the flashlight’s beam. Its hoof was connected to an equine-like leg covered in coarse blue hair. The creature’s stench grew more foul as the fetor of decay accompanied the overpowering stink of sulfur. This was all too much for the simple-minded maintenance man, and so he did the only thing he could at that moment; he froze.

As the creature continued its slow move forward, its two red eyes pierced through the darkness and seemed to burn straight through Gord’s body and into his soul. “Get up Gord Stimpson. Your moment is at hand.” At last, the creature fully revealed itself in the soft white beam of the flashlight.

Horrified, Gord stared upon a beast he never knew could exist in this world or the next. It loomed over him at around 9 feet tall. It stood upon two legs that resembled those of a goat. The creature’s torso was that of a man, but it was covered in a dense blue fur that hid the lumpy purple skin beneath. Hanging from its waist was something orange—something that once sashayed across the factory floor with silent grace.

“No,” Gord said with a whimper.

Before any sadness could set in, though, Gord laid eyes upon the most terrifying sight yet; the creature’s head. For the creature didn’t have the head of any demon depicted in the works of the occult. Nor did it have the head of some monster out of a classic fairytale. No, it instead sported a head quite familiar to Gord Stimpson. The creature’s head was, in fact, his own!

He reeled back in terror and fell as he looked upon the ghastly and deformed version of himself. He attempted to get to his feet, but both of his arms had become swollen, purple logs of dead flesh. He worked his legs underneath him to the best of his abilities, but without the use of his arms, he wasn’t able to push himself to a stand. The poor man then tried to scream for help, but the lumps in his mouth had swollen to such a grotesque size that sound could no longer escape.

The monster stepped closer and Gord closed his eyes. His flashlight fell from his dead hand and rolled off into the night. There wasn’t anything he could do to save himself.

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