Brian had just drifted off to sleep when the Darkness came for him. He awoke with a start to a feeling of deep dread. Lying on his side, he surveyed the room, his eyes accustomed to the dark. He saw nothing amiss and reasoned that he must have awakened from an unremembered nightmare. He closed his eyes to return to sleep.
A sound, sharp and sudden, brought him to a reclining position, uncovering himself. Again, he saw nothing, could find no cause for the noise. He waited. The sound repeated in a keener pitch. Then again. Clicking on the bedside lamp, Brian located the source.
His guitar stood propped in a corner. Two of the strings were broken, coiled at the neck and the base as if plucked too hard while being played. While Brian stared, a third string popped, then the final three in sequence. Twang. Twang. Twang. Brian sat up.
Brian took a deep breath, exhaled, looking beyond the physical plane into the esoteric realms. He’d read that a person, upon handling an object, left a certain etheric residue. True psychics could often tune into an individual consciousness by handling that same object, much like a bloodhound picked up a scent. Had he attracted something to the guitar, he wondered? More of Dave’s spooks? He concentrated, looking farther.
Searing pain stabbed into his eyes and he dropped back on the bed, hands pressed to his face. His eyes felt like they had been stung by hornets, had been doused with boiling water. The pain subsided mercifully soon and, wiping tears, Brian sat back up. In places, the walls of the room seemed to burn with an invisible fire. The paint blistered and peeled, scorch marks spreading in a flowing stain. Opposite where Brian sat, the markings began to form a pattern. The starkness of the paint providing for detail and contour, the burn etched an obvious design into the wall. A face took form, staring back at him.
Brian’s breath caught in his throat. Never had he seen such a likeness. Though crude, the effigy expressed such utter hatred, such horror that it captivated him. A perfect depiction of the face of absolute evil. All suffering, all death, everything awful that had ever happened or ever would, stood depicted in that face. Brian felt his sanity slipping away, madness near. He forced himself to look away.
Within his locked room, it began to rain.
Brian jerked his head up. The raindrops were warm. He looked around him, at the floor, the sheets, his hands. He gagged, fighting the urge to be sick. It rained blood.
The storm worsened, the sticky drops of blood now interspersed with a hail of writhing maggots, eyeballs, large worms. Brian’s gaze returned to the hellish face. It now seemed to be protruding from the wall, moving towards him. Brian screamed, struggling to keep a grip on his sanity.
He raced to the door, began pounding at it. He could hear others screaming now, from the adjoining rooms. He thought of Dave. Then it had him.
The breath heaved out of his lungs as he convulsed. Brian fell back, his body dead weight. He couldn’t move. Blood filled his eyes, nostrils, mouth, but he could do nothing for it. He felt no physical touch as he began to rise into the air, only an incredible pressure from all sides, crushing him. Brian actually felt it when his heart stopped.
For an instant, he did die. And, in that instant, the worst thing of all—Brian heard the voice. It’s voice. A voice comprised of the agonized screams of every damned being, but somehow coherent, somehow understandable.
“There you are, little insignificant thing.”
Brian’s vision faded. He saw the blackness of oblivion.
And then there was Light.