Chapter 9: Things not of this World
I felt them moving across my skin the ends of each step the lightest of pinches. Too many to count. The room was lit by moonlight and they glistened.
The room rolled and shimmered. It crawled. The collective foot falls of thousands of them made a constant *hisssss....*. My skin would shiver if it were not paralyzed with tension to keep from upsetting those hundreds already journeying across my body.
Then he emerged from the door. He was cloaked so that no flesh showed, nothing showed only the voice was detectable, "You look unwell my friend." It wasn't said in a known language, it was spoken in the words of primeval, the base code of the universe, understood by anyone, like you would understand yourself, or the things you wish to do.
"I am covered in insects," I said. "I was woken up, by being covered in insects."
"I do remember such feelings well enough," the Cloak said. "I apologize. These things... a product of my disruptions. I did not intend to cause you harm."
"Can you get them off me?"
"Not without some complications," the Cloak replied. "Something from where I am from."
"Okay," I said watching the door.
The was black and had no handle and was in an arch, as if someone was going to partition my room into two smaller rooms and decided to start with the door and frame. The Cloak pushed it a crack letting light and noise through the crack. The light was harsh and yellow and blinding to my sleep widened pupils. The sounds like a thousand clicking tongues and fingers strumming to hear the rattling click of keys on a keyboard. Sound without meaning. Just discordant noise.
Then another shadow entered the room and started slurpily-crunching its way around the floor. blinded by the harsh yellow I saw it more as a mishmash of parts then a complete whole, a broad back like a big flat turtle, but the limbs were shiny like a carapace, and the head looked like a worm or snake with a face that opened like a orchid with a half dozen little tongues clicking out to pull in the bugs around my floor. Then the thing moved to my bed, I closed my eyes and felt its front limbs holding it up on the bed, and little by little the tiny pinches disappeared replaced with a hot dry breath and the occasionally wispy lick of a tongue tube on one last patrol for centipede. Then the beast dropped off and shuffled into the yellow and clicking.
"Why does it do that?" I asked sitting up and taking a more firm grasp of the Cloak standing gormlessly in my room.
"Each time I move in an out the natural world gets a sort of burst and tends to construct that energy making copies of the vermin that happen to be around."
"A clone army of centipedes," I closed my eyes, and let my mouth and tongue wag as I shook my head and rubbed and scratched at every inch of myself. "The most unsettling thing a person can wake up to."
"Apologize, yes, I know.... Thank you," I said. "This is really just part of my life. How can I be of service?"
"Something is happening," said the Cloak.
"Okay," I replied. "What?"
"I know you cannot hear or feel it my friend, you are not as sensitive as many who work for you. But I can hear it in the Room that Hangs in Darkness, I can hear it at the Everywhere Motel. There is a sound more and more of your people will start to hear."
"What does it mean?"
"Unknown," the Cloak replied. "I hear it like distant screams, so loud as to be garbled, so distant as to be faded. And the universe has a lot of background noise to bother me with."
"So you hear a noise from over a hill, but the water fall you are standing next to keeps you from hearing the message clearly."
"That analogy would be apt, yes."
"Well, what you are hearing, does it sound like a roaring cheer?"
"Cry for help?"
"Is it the sound of someone crying in pain?"
"At first I thought so," said the Cloak. "But it has changed. Now it sounds more like... a growl. It sounds like hunger."
I looked at him in the darkness, my composure came back to me then. I got up and began to get dressed, making sure to keep the light low and aimed away from my guest. Fumbling with my silver key necklace being tangled for a second with the tie. "Has anyone in the organization already been bitten?"
"The Growling... Have any of the people I am in charge of fallen victim to this thing."
"Some have, yes," the Cloak said. "They have walked into the mouth that is growling and are already being chewed."
"No one directly working for you," said the Cloak.
"Odd way to word that," I replied. "Are any of my people proximate to this right now? Anyone who can be warned?"
"Perhaps," said the Cloak, "Though it is being managed for now at the expense of those they are working with."