This tome, this journal that is the haven of my human mind. Might you grant me sanctuary one last time? As I fade from this world?
I’ve managed to steal myself away.
They can’t get in. Nothing can get in. Nothing at all.
Especially not the air. It has become—well, I would say it had become worse than poison, but poison just leaves you dead. Those… those things, those which lurk within the air, that bleed into our reality, that lurk in the reality a shadow’s width from ours…
when they lurk in the air, miasmic corrosion warps them, turning them gnarled and maddened.
The screams echo across the landscape. When I close my eyes, I can still see them. Grins plastered across their faces, the slit-like smiles carved across their bodies.
Johnny. My friend, with me since the foundation of my very memories and even before. It was a tear across his gullet, like a salmon. It gaped. He shouldn’t have had any blood in him. Should’ve bled dry days ago.
But he bled.
And worse yet, he begged. Clamored and banged, begging not to die.
Doesn’t he know that death was a solace compared to the alternative?
That was last week.
Blood fades. I know it does. It is over now. Just a memory
Air is the undying poison, that is why I entombed myself here. To escape, to not become like them to not bear witness to what lurks above. To still maintain the core tenants of my barest humanity.
I am safe, harbored in the earth’s embrace, entombed by structure and steel. I may be all that remains of humanity.
Night is the worst. That is when they become apparent. They are darkness. They are not the technicolor black of an oil slick, nor the dry darkness of a mine, or even the damp darkness of a basement.
I wish it were like the stories, and that it was the empty, unknowable darkness that lies in between the stars, the dark of an uncaring existence, but it is worse.
It is a darkness intimately familiar. It is the inherent darkness, not that which one knows, but what one is. They take on the dark behind the eyes, the safety of the skull shed.
I had to repay them in kind. To demolish the safety that they so readily forsook.
Talia. (Her beguiling lips) misguided me, tried corrupting me. Tried leading me astray.
Her skull. It clattered. It broke.
Bone leaves. Blood fades.
They lurk. They look like everyone else. Like my dear Elijah, but when his company no longer brought me rapturous delight. I knew then it could not be him.
Was Talia not enough?
(His eyes, like sculpted ice.) Consorting with others, plotting my downfall.
I felt broken. I felt betrayed.
Elijah, his face. Cherub in contorted agony. It would not know those feelings. But- but why did he cry so? Why did he have this look of agonizing heartbreak?
No. No. No.
There is a crack in the wall. It gapes. They are trying to sway me. To make me one of them.
But that was not Elijah. Elijah would never leave me in a state as that thing did. It just wore his body.
I was true. I was just. It is gone. I freed Elijah from the unknowable eternity.
I granted him death.
But…his skin. It peeled in clumps. It caused it to shriek. To weep for untold hours.
Does he not know how that was torture? How I spent hours on the other side of his cell, rocking back and forth, begging, praying that, he would just stop.
For the ungodly noise, for the sobs to go. For it to just die already?
Why did he have to make me suffer, to be in agony by hearing that? How could he be so selfish?
It doesn’t matter.
Flesh dries. It breaks. It is over now. Just a memory.
My hands are pure. My hands are pure. Myhandsarepuremyhandsarepure…
I hear them now. I held out for weeks. They have wormed their way into me, making me think their thoughts, making me doubt myself.
But they will not be able to savor their victory. My will is steel, my mind pure, at least it was.
Johnny. Talia. Elijah.
I am not sorry for what I did, but that I had to do it.
But we will be together once more.
About The Author
Jesse Seidel grew up in Queens and currently lives in Albany, though he has written and even been published before. this is the first time he has written a horror piece. He is an aspiring novelist and accomplished poet, having been published in both the 2017 and 2019 editions of New York’s Best Emerging Poets.
When he is not writing, which is far too often, he is either reading, playing DnD, enjoying the Listerine adjacent flavor of Peppermint Schnapps or is otherwise procrastinating on something that should not be procrastinated on.
If you want to see what Jesse is up to, you can find him on Twitter @Jukebox_Jester