A dark, folded eye stared back at me as I lay beneath the sweat-slicked bedclothes. A mad hare’s eye, I thought, catching a glimpse of a flopped pillow ear and glittering scrunchie paw that emerged from beneath the blood-spattered blanket. Shivering with fever, I heaved onto my other side to avoid its malignant glare and instead found myself observed by the light switch on the wall. Its screw eyes and switch nose were disdainful of my suffering. Blood freckled its white plastic face.
My poisoned blood.
“Go away!” I shut my eyes. My heart seemed to beat outside my body, a dull pounding against my chest that vibrated my fingers and toes. Behind my eyelids, neon worms wriggled against a throbbing backdrop. I tried to remember how I had become trapped inside this duvet cocoon, but only dark, disturbing images jittered through my mind. Feeling the nausea clawing back up my throat, I had no choice but to open my eyes again. Gargoyle faces greeted me, formed from the curtain’s intertwining flower-patterns.
I tensed as a malicious presence crept into the room.
A sheet-white oval with two dark, blinking holes punched through it peered down at me. A moist pink gash twisted and trembled.
“Daddy? Are you feeling any better?”
The sudden sound was too loud and harsh to bear. A wordless moan escaped my lips. The apparition stumbled back; two pale flowers flapped from its side like outstretched, fluttering hands. Another voice, a shrill cry of concern, and the sinister creature hurried away.
Voices outside the room, jarring and loud. Pain spiked through my head; pain that erased all thought.
“…An accident at the lab. I haven’t been able to get any more details. You know what the security there is like. He’s been like this ever since he came home.”
“He needs to be in the hospital. He needs a doctor.”
The voices faded to a wordless mutter as the speakers retreated down the stairs, but their continued conversation still jangled in my ears. I coughed and a fine dark mist escaped my cupped and trembling hand.
My cellphone stirred on the bedside table, its periodic conversation with the base station caught and amplified by the old analog radio-alarm clock beside it. I groaned at the noise and moved the phone away with my blood-smeared hand. The phone’s eyes— the grille-covered speaker and microphone on either side of the wide interface slot mouth—gazed back at me.
“We are here, master,” the phone said and I immediately dropped it. There was a buzzing, rasping, rustling chorus all around the room. “We are here.”
The strange thing is: these new voices did not pain me. ”Who are you?” My voice was hoarse with phlegm. “What do you want?” I coughed again and blood thicker, darker and more structured than it should be slicked the bedclothes. I watched as dark splotches spread from my fingers and merged with the cotton, coursing through it, incorporating it, giving birth to some rippling, flapping thing.
“We are yours to command. We exist only to obey.” Insect-like legs uncurled from beneath the phone as it slowly morphed into new life. Its little slot-mouth opened and revealed rows of glistening, needle-like teeth. The duvet rode up, blue cotton tentacles whirling. The curtains writhed and twitched, eager for my command.
From downstairs there were shouts, sobs. I gritted my teeth, knuckled my forehead at the piercing din. I was so tired. The sound of the voices from below tore at me, a bitter reminder of a world I could no longer recognize and could never return to.
I wanted only one thing. Perhaps I understood the consequences. Perhaps I did not.
“Please,” I said to my new friends.
“Please. Just make the noise stop.”
First published in Horror D’Ouevres, 2014.
© All Rights Reserved Henry Szabranski.
Story notes here.