© Copyright 2017 Douglas Christian Larsen. Rood Der.
Rood Der — Episode Five: Eldritch Purgings
Several of the guys were together, doing what they called their Special Sunday Project, even though today was Tuesday, the day before their usual Prayer Meetin’ (what they all called their Wednesday night gatherings of the Sky Valley Group). They had first started on Sundays, thus the name, but then their project evolved into whatever day they could get the most of them together, to track the mayhem of Bigfoot—yes, they had gone along with the media and had started referring to their quarry as Bigfoot, or the Bigfooted Fellow, the actual Viking that had escaped from Sky Valley through the Red Door (before there was an actual door, of any color, on the very first day when the portal suddenly opened) and had run amuck in their world. After trashing most of Hank’s house, the renegade Viking had burst through a window and set himself loose upon Rand World (what they were now calling their own world, Rand World, some kind of low-budget simulation that measured changes in world run along the principles of Ayn Rand and Objectivism, what they knew as the real world). In several months of freedom, the Viking Bigfoot had never been captured, and had left a trail of bare footprints—size fifteen—across the city and out into the woods, where he was periodically observed, a very broad man, not too tall, but exceptionally hairy, and generally in some form of nakedness. His many crimes were generally perpetrated upon livestock, sometimes upon hanging laundry, and occasionally against picnickers.
Hunters had fired upon the Viking Bigfoot, and police had tackled the monster on many occasions. But the terrifying fact was, this renegade in Rand World, was just a heck of a whole lot stronger than the average man, and preternaturally fast, and much more clever than any raccoon or coyote. He was smarter than a bear, and was often mistaken for some hairless, mutant bear, despite his overall hairiness, and seemed to best resemble the legend of Bigfoot, despite his lack of height. He had burst two pairs of steel handcuffs, and snapped a set of industrial-strength zip ties. The police had actually moved the Viking Bigfoot through an arrest procedure, even managing to photograph the creature, prior to his escape, trashing the police station, sending four policeman to the hospital with broken bones and concussions.
The mugshot the police had preserved showed a very Neanderthal-looking brute, with a prominent bony ridge above his eyebrows, an incredibly dumb looking savage missing most of his big, yellow teeth, with a maniacal glint in his bulbous eyes. A brute with a dent in his massive skull. The measurement in the photograph said that this Bigfoot hoaxer was five-foot eight inches tall, and weighed in the neighborhood of two hundred fifty pounds. The caption on the released photograph exclaimed: Very Dangerous! Do Not Attempt To Apprehend.
It was amazing that the Viking Bigfoot had yet to murder anyone, or rape anyone, or pillage a village, as that is what Vikings tended to do. This particular Viking bit the heads off chickens, molested several sows across the state, and seemed to especially enjoy peering in windows at folks who had sat down to binge-watch television on Netflix.
The guys—Rodney, John, Ron, and Jethro—they were the usual group, although sometimes Joss Chen joined them, and occasionally Frederic, when he was well enough, all met in the basement of Rodney’s parents’ house, where they had converted a wall into a massive FBI-like media-tracking station. They posted whatever Internet rumors were circulating, or newspaper clippings, alleged photos of the creature, and actual photos of the creature, including a huge blow-up enlargement of the aforementioned police mugshot.
They had a laptop computer devoted exclusively to the pursuit of the creature, where they stored video clips and had amassed a considerable database of sightings and Viking Bigfoot events. Ron was the culprit who kept stringing yarn about the media board, making connections, and Rodney was the guy who kept taking down the yarn connections, because he claimed they made no sense, and were just muddling the whole project.
As John, Jethro, and Ron argued before the board, putting up new clippings, Rodney sat in his father’s La-Z-Boy recliner, watching the big screen television. Rodney had a touch of the flu, and just didn’t feel up to Viking Bigfoot arguments and theories; in truth he was getting tired of the whole project. He figured the situation was going to resolve itself, regardless of whatever they planned or did or figured, and there was absolutely no way they were going to be able to return the Viking through the Red Door.
That had been their original premise, returning the monster to his own world. But Rodney figured that the monster would kill them before he ever communicated with them. At first, Rodney had been the most convinced and convicted member of this project, because he was the guy who had pushed the Viking through the portal, severing him from his own reality, banishing the poor Viking to Rand World. But his guilt had only lasted so long. And this current flu, a particularly virulent specimen, had seemingly wiped free any interest in their little project. Oh yeah, Rodney was completely rebooted on this project. His mental hard drive was wiped clean.
Rodney was watching some kooky science fiction show, some old-time black-and-white classic, with a mad scientist featuring crazy white hair. Was it Boris Karloff? No, not Karloff, but he thought he recognized both Lon Chaney and Bela Lugosi as extras, in the background. The mad scientist kept bursting into crazy laughter, while he shook various containers and beakers over an over-large fish aquarium.
Inside the aquarium, a brain bubbled and swam about. The scientist had rigged a microphone and speakers both inside and outside the aquarium, so he could maintain a rambling conversation with his pet brain. It was all very cheesy, all very cliché, but Rodney loved it all.
The mad scientist looked like Colin Clive, the original Dr. Frankenstein, from the 1931 movie. Yes, Rodney was a monster-movie buff, a geek, a nerd, and although he didn’t try to memorize all the trivia, he did. It was just the way his brain worked. He also lived and breathed Doctor Who, and both Star Trek and Star Wars. It was all good to Rodney.
The mad scientist, the Colin Clive lookalike, also looked a lot like Doctor Eleven from Doctor Who, but with crazier hair. An odd-looking guy with a long, moony face. Something strange was going on, because everything in this movie looked relatively modern, except it was all filmed like a black-and-white classic. Rodney turned up the volume a bit, just so that he could hear what the doctor and the brain were saying to each other.
“Come on Rodney, turn it down,” John Galt snapped, busily taping something to their media wall. “Even if you are not going to participate, you don’t have to distract us with your Sci-Fi crap.”
“Something weird,” Rodney muttered, clicking on the subtitles so he wouldn’t miss anything. He liked the guys, all of them, they were all fine, except that they could get a tad noisy.
“Everything is something weird with you,” Jethro said, lighting his pipe. He knew he wasn’t supposed to smoke in the Weinstein basement, Rodney’s parents would have a cow, but the tobacco was so nice-smelling that no one ever gave him much of a hard time about his occasional pipe.
“No smoking,” Rodney replied, concentrating on what the mad doctor was saying.
“Right,” Jethro said, puffing away, tapping at his load with a pipe nail. He puffed contentedly, studying the media wall, which was now covered with clippings and pastings, from top to bottom, and side to side.
“Barney, Bernard, you can take your muscle car for a spin, with a few bonus prizes snuck in, just for you, dear Bernard,” the mad doctor said, and then cackled into mad laughter.
“Sheesh,” Ron said, “what nonsense are you watching?”
“Something is going on guys, I think this is an Abyss moment,” Rodney said, coughing, not covering his mouth.
“Everything is an Abyss moment with you,” Jethro said, puffing his pipe, turning from the wall to look at the giant TV screen.
The brain started babbling through the speakers.
“Come on! Come on! I don’t know what you people want from me, I’m telling you, it’s not even my Red Door, I’m just one of the guys, I really don’t know anything other than what I’ve told you. Stop torturing me! I have to take it for a spin, please! You need to talk to Hank, he’s the guy, he can give you all the answers, or Ronald Rand, talk to him, or Frederic, he’s the smartest, and he keeps all the numbers, he’s our accountant.”
“What the hell!” John Galt snapped, striding to stand in front of the television.
“I told you! I told you! That’s Barney’s voice, the brain, it’s Barney’s voice, he even called him Barney, and Bernard!” Rodney babbled, wiping his nose on his sleeve.
“That is Barney’s voice,” Ron said, “and he just told them my full name, the bastard.”
“And there’s no way that Frederic is the smartest,” Rodney howled. “Everyone knows I’m the smartest, plus why didn’t he say my name? He said everyone else? What about me? Do you think it’s because of the whole Jewish thing?”
“Would you shut up?” John Galt spat, snatching the remote out of Rodney’s hand. He cranked up the volume.
“Please! Please!” the brain cried. “I’ve been good. I’ve told you everything. Please, give me a taste, please, just a taste.”
The mad doctor laughed, and then he lifted up some old-fashioned looking gizmo with an oversized dial on it. The gizmo snaked out wires, most of them attached to a bigger gizmo attached to the side of the aquarium.
“Yes, Bernard,” the mad doctor laughed. “I will give you a taste, just a taste!” The mad doctor cranked the dial, and the image on the television shifted, it did an old-fashioned resolve into a colorful forest scene, where a big red muscle car sat rumbling by the side of the road.
There was Barney, striding forward to the car, all smiles. Boy did he look stupid. The movie quality was such that it looked like some unknown someone was filming all this on a Smartphone. Someone was doing the filming with a not particularly steady hand.
“Oh, she’s gorgeous,” Barney said, running his hand along the muscle car’s shiny panel.
The car thrummed as if in response.
“Boob,” John Galt said, shaking his head. “That’s definitely Barney, the boob.”
“Can I slide into her, please?” Barney said, with that absurd look of rapture that they all knew. He was sexualizing, as he always did. He always bragged how he would like to impregnate that fine ride, or really gum up the works of that truck.
“Oh come on, the pervert,” Ron said, “he is utterly sick.”
“Would you like to take her for a ride?” the voice of the mad doctor said.
“Oh yes, oh yes, oh please,” Barney pled, wringing his hands over the door handle, doing a little tap dance.
“But what about these nice ladies, would you be so kind as to take them for ride?” the mad doctor queried, bursting into maniacal laughter.
The camera panned wildly to capture three gorgeous beauty queens as they came prancing across the pavement of the road on too-tall high-heel shoes. There was a buxom blonde beauty queen, an Asian beauty queen, and a truly beautiful brunette beauty queen, all three in their pageant swimwear, complete with sashes, all giggling absurdly, with the same frozen smile of delight on their painted red mouths.
“Come on!” John Galt snapped.
“Would you get out of the way?” Ron and Jethro said together, drawing close about Rodney’s lounger. John moved to the side but still stood too close to the screen.
Barney clapped his hands together in an excited little golf clap. He looked like he were about to faint.
“I need an AA meeting,” Ron muttered.
“But what’s it all mean?” Rodney said, huddling under his blanket and coughing, not covering his mouth.
“Would you cover your mouth?” John Galt said, rolling his eyes at Rodney.
“I got my flu shot, I can’t have the flu,” Rodney whimpered, wiping his sleeve across his nose.
“Idiot,” Ron and John and Jethro said as one.
“Have you had your flu shot?” the mad doctor’s voice queried onscreen.
The guys in the room stopped moving around, they all poised, leaning forward. This was definitely an Abyss moment.
“Of course I’ve got my flu shot, I always get my flu shot, what, do you think I’m crazy?” Barney said, unable to decide where his eyes should remain, on the car, or the girls. “Please, oh please, let me give them all a shot, please?”
“Good, good,” the mad doctor laughed, completely overdoing the evil-genius laughter, and true rolling muh-wuh-ha-ha-ha-HA-HA-HAAAaahhh!
“Damn it,” Rodney said, coughing, not covering his mouth. “It was stupid Barney that talked me into getting this flu shot.”
“Idiot,” Ron and John and Jethro said as one.
“Why don’t you take the girls out for a ride?” the mad doctor asked, the camera zooming in on the three beauty queens, who all of them fawned and petted at Barney.
“I’m just the man for the job!” Barney laughed, slapping his hands together. “Come on girls! In the car, in the car! No, through the window, through the window, I’ll help!”
And Barney proceeded to “help” each girl slither through the driver’s side window, tickling them and fondling them, boosting them when they seemed to need a boost. Grabbing massive handfuls of buttocks and pushing them through as they squealed wildly.
“Please, an hour? Can I have a whole hour?” Barney said, with begging eyes, looking into the camera. They thought they saw the twinkle of an actual tear in the corner of his piggish eyes.
The mad doctor laughed explosively.
“Bernard! Bernard! Why think so small? Remember, this is all electrical stimulation, synthesis, simulacra! Enjoy yourself! You have a wallet bursting with hundred dollar bills! I think this calls for a road trip! Take a week! Take a month!”
“Oh!” Barney cried, suddenly hugging whomever operated the camera, the view going all topsy turvy, and then Barney was ripping open the door and cramming himself inside.
“Notice he didn’t go through the window?” John Galt said, sourly.
The car engine roared and the car went fishtailing down the shoulder of the road, kicking up plumes of dirt and dust, until drifting onto the road with a smoking peal of rubber that lasted a full thirty seconds, rocketing away, Barney’s voice screaming in delight, echoing far into the distance.
Then the mad doctor was onscreen, filming himself with his phone.
“Let him purge! We should all purge! Just clean it out, all of it, because,” the mad doctor said, eyes twinkling, “we make room for the new! Get it out guys, and get ready to move on! Leave all of this rot behind, find yourselves some nice girls, like our good friend Barney here, and pack your bags.”
The screen dissolved back to the mad laboratory and the bubbling aquarium.
“We better call everyone together for an emergency meeting,” John Galt said.
“I just talked to Joss,” Ron said, “he says Hank hasn’t been around for a few days. He thinks he’s crossed over, and he said that Frederic came through with Frances this morning, and they crossed over.”
“Is everyone going crazy? And what was that about purging?” John Galt demanded, but the guys were all silent, staring at the television screen.
The movie on the television was back to showing the brain in the aquarium, bubbling and drifting peacefully. The brain actually seemed to be smiling.
“Vrroooom,” the brain said, bubbling, making the sound of a child’s speeding racecar. “Vrrrooooooooom!”
Frances froze and stood there in the middle of the sunny, rocky ground, upon some tall hill overlooking a deep valley cracked with crevasses. A long way off she could see the twinkle of sunlight on a broad river. She stood staring. Frederic had pulled away from her as soon as they crossed the threshold of the Red Door, and even now he was on his hands and knees, vomiting profusely.
But Frances stood, and stared. This couldn’t be real. It was all too beautiful. She was a great lover of nature, forests, oceans, mountains, sunrises and sunsets. But this, however, was all too much, such colors! Such vivid, delicious colors!
The sky looked a like patchwork of every conceivable hue of blue, woven together, bright cyan about the horizon, and the deepest azure, up near the top of the dome. But all in the same sky she could pick out tufts of what looked like indigo, so indigo the purple was bleeding out, and royal blue, Prussian blue, it all brought tears to her eyes, ice blue and cornflower blue and faded-denim blue and deepest succulent navy blue. She could hardly breathe, staring up at the sky.
She even looked fully at the sun, and it did not bring any pain. She winced away from looking at the sun, and then her gaze returned, her eyes focusing on the fiery orb—it was like you could see little bursts of flame erupting off the sun, almost like a children’s drawing of a sun encircled with triangles. The sun felt lovely on her eyes.
She sighed, and then she wept. As Frederic emptied his guts, spewing bile and vomit, Frances stood weeping. It was all real. This place, it was real. She wept. It was too beautiful. She could die now, and be happy, for she had witnessed Heaven, and Heaven was real, here she stood, in the middle of it.
“Sorry!” Frederic said, through bursts of vomit—his entire being seemed clenched up in a tight fist. “I am so, so, sorry.” And then he got back to retching, growling, groaning, and so much was coming out of him, it looked like green froth. Horse froth, after a horse has been munching wet grass, that green froth that limes their mouth, that’s what looked to be erupting from her Frederic. It was pale and horrible, the vomit, the froth.
She should go to him, help him, she knew, but she couldn’t move. She was locked in place, as if this were all a horror, a beautiful horror show, because it meant that where she came from was not real, her whole life was not real, all her memories, all the many people she loved and cherished, it was all as Frederic tried to tell her, about their discoveries through the Red Door. Because this place, right here, even her first glimpse of it—it was so much more believable than where she lived her whole life. That place, what she had always considered real life—it was as fake as if she had been a Gumby character her whole life, made out of clay. Or a South Park cutout puppet.
“Oh no,” Frederic groaned, tugging at his cargo shorts. He was wrenching his shorts down while attempting to crawl farther from the portal, he didn’t want to make such a mess this close, where the others might come through at any moment—you could never gauge the time differential between the two worlds, it was never measurable. And he knew this was going to be...bad, very bad.
Frances glanced over at Frederic. Apparently, he had finished vomiting, but was now crawling away naked to deal with the diarrhea, which even she could tell, was close, he would never make it another ten feet through the rocky soil and over into that patch of lush grasses—oh no, he couldn’t soil there, that grass—had she ever seen such green? The grass shimmered with colors, vivid hues, as alive as the sky.
How could anyone concentrate on anything here, with these colors, colors everywhere. Frances had never considered herself all that artistic, or creative, but here, damn, but she just wanted to try and paint that sky, capture this grass, somehow, it all flooded her eyes with tears. Why, she just did not deserve to be here—nobody did, they were wretches, and this was Wonderland.
But her body even felt different here. She could feel her heart beating in her breast. She could feel her blood surging in bursts throughout her veins. Her arteries swelled and pumped, surging, blasting oxygen throughout her body. Her heart was a great drum.
She closed her eyes to somehow clamp down on the sensory overload, and she lifted her face to the sun. Oh, she could feel the rays, warmth, and a slight sizzle upon her skin, it was wonderful. She laughed, and burst into tears anew.
Frederic’s bowels exploded. He lay upon his side, his shorts kicked off five feet back, and he aimed his spray of sour feces into the grasses. He felt that he was melting into the grass, lying here naked. He was probably going to die. He knew and understood this fact, as the pain lanced fiery from his anus, his entire body was opening up, purging, first from his belly, spewing from his mouth, and now at the other end, with ten times the force and fury. He bit at the grasses, biting stalks, chewing on them, his eyes clenched shut. He was dying. Dying.
Frances felt a delicious breeze upon her face, and it did smell Heavenly—what she had glimpsed in the tunnel, that had only been a hint. Essence of mint, ginger, cinnamon, even oregano, the spiciness of onions and the bite of garlic—she had never even caught a hint of these scents, roses, wildflowers, poppies, and roses, roses, roses, never in her entire life, no, not ever, and now she stood overwhelmed, her eyes closed to the colors, but now her senses afire with feelings and smells and hearing, for the sounds were crystalline, pure, it was as if she were wind chimes and the breeze stroked her into real life, for the first time, she understood, yes, she understood what it was to be alive...
...for she is alive, she is awake, she is here, she is so, so alive, and she wants to scream, she wants to shriek with laughter.
Finally, she opened her eyes and took a deep breath. She held the breath, glancing about herself. She stood alone, on a hill, a hill of boulders and large rocks, surrounded by grasses, tall grasses and short grasses, and she seemed to be at the center of a maze of hills and valleys that extended into infinity. And she could see. She removed her glasses. She could see perfectly, and it was almost worse than when her eyes were protected—her perfect eyesight with glasses seemed to be gone, the lenses had blurred her vision, protecting her, for now the colors seemed doubled in their intensity.
She finally noticed Frederic lying naked in the grass. At least he had made it to the grasses.
Frances took a step toward him, and then she glanced over to where he had been vomiting. She screamed. She clamped her hands over her mouth to contain the scream, but most of the bouquet had escaped, released like a garden into the pristine sky.
Only here for a minute, perhaps two, and she had already wept copious tears, laughed until she felt she must be locked away, and now screamed so loudly she was afraid she might have burst an eardrum, or pierced the sky.
The vomit was alive. A frothy wave of tendrils writhing six inches off the rocky soil, it looked like plants, or fungus, but terribly alive. An actual tentacle snaked out of the mess, and snatched at her. She screamed in her hands and danced back away from the vomit monster. That’s what it was, a monster. And it had come out of Frederic. This thing had come out of her beloved Frederic.
She thought of all the times they had sat snuggled together, and this creature had been inside him, perhaps sensing her presence. Maybe it wished to make the leap, and start up a colony of itself inside of her, inside Frances’ guts. Maybe it had. The thought made her want to vomit, but she was too terrified to see what might erupt from her.
No wonder, this is why Frederic had never made the logical advancements, why he had never initiated intimacy. And what if they had? What if they had made love, when he was full of all this...monstrosity? What about their kisses, in the car?
She felt close to retching.
There seemed to be little scuttling white crabs inside the monster, crabs or giant fleas—or its skin was like white snot, and these little greenish crabs were roiling inside the thin membrane, pushing against the membrane, trying to escape, the crabs, little humping orbs pushing outward. It was all of it one, and there seemed to be little scorpion tails flickering, little crab claws chopping at the air. Octopus arms, little suckers, and it was moving en masse, toward her, creeping, the blob, crawling madness. A brain escaped it vat, slithering toward her, reaching for her with those slimy tentacles.
Frances walked wide about the monstrous mess, which seemed to be tracking her, edging about as she circled around it. If this is what had come out of his belly, then what in the world had erupted from his bowels? She hurried over to Frederic, wary of what she might find, just behind him in the grasses.
“Frederic?” she whispered, fearing suddenly that he was dead there, devoured by whatever had escaped from him; it might be there now, feeding upon his spine, chewing, and sucking—suckling.
Frederic was out, breathing heavily, his chest heaving in loud, gasping breaths, his eyelids fluttering, and his fingers twitching.
And then she saw the things slithering just inches behind Frederic. It looked like a mass of feces snakes, or living feces, worms, something terrible, and there was a literal horde of the horrid things, moving sluggishly in the grasses. She thought about getting a stick, or a rock, and trying to squash the foul creatures, but she wanted as little interaction with them as possible. She knelt close to Frederic’s head, and lightly placed her palms upon his forehead and throat.
He was alive, and burning up, consumed by fever. She had to get him away from the living mess just behind him, and other other one, the white-greenish mass that was working its way in this direction.
She lightly slapped his cheeks, turning his head up, and almost screamed again. Little white-greenish worms were crawling at the corner of his mouth, either trying to get out, or go back in, she couldn’t tell which, but she snatched a ball of grass from the soil and wiped his mouth clear of the white things, and then she tried to lift Frederic, by wedging her left arm beneath his right arm, and pulling at his chest.
Frederic groaned, but his eyes fluttered open.
“Come on, Frederic, we have to get you away from this mess in the grass,” she said, and at least he made a token effort to aid her in getting him up out of the grass.
She could hear the brown worm things hissing in the grass, inches away.
“Come on, Freddybear, you have to help me, at least a little,” she groaned, getting him up off the grass, straining with her legs to lever him up off the ground, and he did, he struggled a little bit—she could hear him apologizing under his breath, oh, and his breath was hideous, like a belching grave—but she finally got him up off the ground, and supporting him under the arms, she walked him toward a large flat rock about fifty feet away. The boulder was about five feet tall, and ten or more feet long, perhaps four feet wide, and almost completely flat, as if something had sliced away the top of the rock. If she could get him over there, and up on that rock, he should be safe from the monstrosities that had come out of his body. She could hear rustlings in the grass, and that dangerous hissing, it was still there, right behind them.
She thought about it, of where the feces worms had erupted, and she reached and snagged a handful of the grass, and bunched it up into a ball. She stood Frederic up, and reached around and...wiped him, wincing as she did so, for there were long strips still only partially removed, and these she brushed at, and then had to seize through the bunch of grass, and pull them out of her Frederic, the things wriggling all the while. She tossed the writhing worms away with a cry of disgust, and then caught Frederic just before he fell.
Well, she knew how to do this. She used to do such things while wrestling with her four brothers. But this would be the first time she would do a fireman’s carry as an adult. They used to call this the “potato sack” when she was a girl, and she dipped down in front of Frederic and push her shoulder into his gut, and then lifted with her legs, holding him behind his knees, and actually managed to stand up with Frederic draped over her shoulder.
She stood there, in this new world, and wondered if she had the strength to move her beloved Frederic to safety. He was limp, her potato sack, but still, he weighed a good thirty pounds more than she did. But she would do it, she would do it, she could do it—she told herself, over and over again: I will do it, I will do it, I will do it. She marched and repeated the mantra. She didn’t actually march. But she did step, just one step and slide at a time.
She took a step. She actually managed a step, carrying Frederic, who must weigh at least one hundred forty pounds, even in his reduced state of emaciation. She did it. She actually took a step. She gritted her teeth, and took a second step, catching her left foot up with her right. There, two steps, that was a good start.
She heard the hissing, very close in the grass. The stupid little shit snakes! She wanted to stomp on them, pop their hideous little wormy bodies. But she would probably end up falling into them. That wouldn’t be good.
No, stick with the plan. Take another step. She took another step. Good girl. And she caught up her lagging foot. That’s the way, that’s the ticket, just like a wedding march. Step, slide, step, slide. She was walking like Igor at a wedding, bearing a stolen body to Doctor Frankenstein. She kept going, pursued by vomit monsters and shit worms, she kept going, step and slide, step and slide, and before she knew it, she was at the flat rock.
Wow, that was incredible. She had actually moved a hundred-forty-pound man fifty feet across rocky soil, and hadn’t fallen down once, not once!
She fell over.
At least she had the good sense to fall against the flat rock, and keeping Frederic balanced, she shifted him as gently as possible, off her shoulder and onto the flat rock. There was a terrible moment when he almost fell down, and she had to pin him at the edge with all her weight, hanging suspended for many moments, groaning, not knowing how she was going to save this one, when Frederic woke, and shifted, actually pulling himself onto the rock, and Frances sighed, sliding down the rock, sitting against it, taking huge puffs of the delicious air, her body soaked in perspiration.
“Lie in the sun, just need to lie here in the sun,” Frederic babbled, feverishly. “Don’t let them get me, Franny, don’t let them get me. Just find a place in the sun, just a place in the sun.”
“Franny!” Frances exploded, and then burst into laughter, covering her eyes with her hands. He had never called her Franny before, and he certainly never would again. Still, she supposed it was okay, this once, poor Frederic being feverish and all. Franny, sheesh, come on.
She glanced down, and saw a dark form slithering over her sneaker.
Frances cried out and found herself looking down from the top of the flat rock. She had no idea how she had gotten up here. One moment she was collapsed on the ground, propped against the boulder, and the next moment here she was—that must have been some catlike leap!
Glancing over the side of the flat rock she saw a myriad of the dark creatures, slithering across the rocky soil, all in a line headed for their location. They had pursued her all the way here. They had been inside Frederic, and apparently, they wanted back into a host—they would probably prefer Frances, as she was a lot more healthy than poor Frederic.
At the edge of the grasses, twenty feet away, she saw the white thing—it looked like a man of war, or bloated jelly fish—the guts thing, it was coming too, and as she watched, it lashed out and snatched up one of the dark shit worms. There was just a brief tussle, and then the gut thing, the writhing man of war full of crabs, consumed the shit snake. It was really grotesque. Truly, it had to be one of the most disgusting sights she had ever seen. She almost vomited again, but contained her rising gorge, suppressing the urge. What if something like that came out of her? Could she bear it?
Of course, if she really thought about it, if something like those things were inside her own body, she would much prefer to get rid of them. As soon as possible, but not just now, okay? In time. But not right now. But better out than in. But give her a moment, please, thank you very much. Just a moment, just a breather.
She cuddled up next to Frederic. He was very feverish, shivering, teeth chattering. She knew she had to go back to where they had come through, she had dropped their water bottles there, and the emergency backpack, plus Frederic’s cargo shorts were back there too. Maybe there was some kind of blanket in the emergency backpack. Frederic was crazy, insisting on bringing nothing here but his shorts. Thank goodness she had come with him, because he would never survive without her.
Ah well, she better be about it. She needed to go and collect there things, and cover Frederic, if possible, or maybe she could build a fire up here. There were several hours until nightfall, because the sun was directly overhead (that was assuming that days were similar here to what she was most used to, in her world). So he could absorb as much of the sun as possible—that had to be good, didn’t it?
Frances sighed. She had better be about it, then. There was no time like the present, and all that. She peeked over the side. More than a few of the dark creatures were even now adhered to the side of the flat rock, perhaps a foot up. They were determined little suckers, she had to give them that. But no way was she letting any of them into her own body, and they would have to get through her to get back to Frederic.
She edged over to the other side of the flat rock and lowered herself backward over the side. She supposed she could just jump, if she had to, but she didn’t want to sprain an ankle or anything like that. So after a moment she was on the ground, sneaking around to where the stupid feces snakes were creeping up the side of the rock.
As she crept she kept her gaze wandering, looking for anything that she could use as a tool, and after a moment she discovered a long pole-like thing, it had to be the broken haft of a spear, or some other tool, but it was about four feet long, broken savagely at one end, and the whole thing looked singed, like it had passed through fire. Perfect. She seized up the stick—it would make a nice walking stick, if nothing else—and found that it had some real heft to it. Very solid. It was about an inch around, so it fit nice in her palms, like the haft of a cricket bat, or a golf club, only heavier. The thing must weigh at least fifteen pounds.
She brought this weapon around the side of the flat rock, and gritting her teeth, she scraped the creeping shit worms off the side of the flat rock. One of them had made it up a full two feet, almost half the distance to the top. After scraping the creepy critters off the side of the rock, she tried stabbing them, and crushing them, but they writhed and hissed and made for her—they were still far too slow to pose much threat, but she wanted to throw down her stick and run screaming from the horror of it.
Was all of this real? The horror to match the beauty?
She kept a stiff upper lip. She scooped them up, one after the other, and flung them as far as she could, like a fishing rod in reverse. She cleaned away about ten of the things, and they were starting to react very violently toward her, coiling up like little shitty rattlesnakes, and striking at the stick when she moved it near.
She threw each one in the same general direction, down into a crevasse about fifty feet away from the flat rock—on the opposite side of the rock from the portal. Then she scrubbed the end of her stick in the dirt, making sure that none of the creatures’ mess was on the stick. When she was able to get a fire going, she would purge the stick in the flames, thus sterilizing it fully.
When she had cleared enough of the dark creatures away from the flat rock, she went back for their things, collecting Frederic’s cargo shorts on her way and shaking them out warily, ensuring that none of the little creeps was coming along for the ride. Thankfully, Frederic got out of the shorts before exploding.
She got their emergency backpack and water bottles (one glass water bottle, one broad steel canteen), and she took a long drink from the canteen. She would have to find a close water source, that was one of the first things on the agenda, after securing Frederic’s location, and seeing to him. She thought briefly of testing out the portal, just to make sure it was still here, and maybe even go back into the room and get more supplies, but then she didn’t want to chance it. What if she came back and Frederic was no longer there on the flat rock, or worse, what if the parasites had gotten back inside him?
She shouldered the backpack and strode wide around the scene of Frederic’s mess, scanning the ground carefully so that she did not inadvertently step on any of the grotesque creatures.
Frances paused, looking out over the valley. Never had she seen a landscape this lush, with those strange trees of many colors, and strange birds circling in the azure sky. Wow, she kept saying to herself, wow. She was here, in a whole new place, a whole new world, and she saw no signs of people, not anywhere.
She came upon the pale monstrosity, the thing full of crabs, the thing of tentacles and crab chompers, scorpion tails, and other bizarre appendages. The thing had made it all the way to the flat rock. It was moving very slowly, and it was quivering. It started making for her when she drew near. She wanted to stab it with her stick, but worried about what might come out of it. She didn’t like the looks of all that roiling mess inside it, beetles and fleas and crabs. But she didn’t like it getting close to the flat rock like this, with Frederic only five feet above.
She made a fake move on the pale creature, and then quickly dashed around the opposite way so she could place the backpack and water bottle and canteen upon the surface of the flat rock. And this task accomplished, she gave Frederic a hard once-over, performing a triage with her eyes. He seemed unchanged, but now was huddled into a fetal ball. Poor naked Frederic, he looked completely frail, utterly fragile. Before doing anything else upon the surface of the flat rock, she had to deal with those stinking parasites that just wouldn’t give up.
As she came back around the side of the flat rock she was surprised to find the pale creature right there—the nightmare could move when it wanted to. She couldn’t allow herself to slack off, this thing was dangerous. As she watched, it snatched up one of the dark creatures, and absorbed it among its wriggling tendrils. The dark feces worm squealed like a wounded animal as it was consumed. Good night, Darwin, but this was sick stuff.
She tapped her stick in front of the pale creature. It reacted by surging forward and trying to clasp the stick with several tentacles. Frances didn’t like the way the suckers on the tentacles seemed to gasp and breathe. If it got purchase on the stick, she might not be able to yank it away. She moved away, tapping the stick, and was gratified to see at least twenty of the dark creatures move out of the grasses and from beneath rocks, in pursuit, the pale creature coming on, following her. She tapped the stick and drew them all away from the flat rock. There was another crevasse about fifty feet away, a smaller one, but still a great crack in the ground, and if she could draw them all there, she could push them over, one by one, and send down large rocks after them.
The pale creature seemed larger now than when she had first come across it, after awakening from her Sky Valley trance. It looked about three feet long now, and two feet wide, and perhaps a foot high in the bulk of it—perhaps the size of a medium-sized octopus, not that she had any real conceptual grasp on the size of an octopus of any size. But it was significantly smaller than the octopus-villains in cheesy science fiction movies, the monsters that snatched at divers, and always gave them such a squeeze. Let’s say the creature was as big as a flattened German Shepherd, that was now oozing and zombieing its way after her in little jerking spams of pursuit. It seemed to be steaming in the bright sunlight.
She had a thought. And it was terrible. She cried out and dashed about the pale thing, and made little leaps over several of the dark snakes, and got all the way back to the flat rock, and dashed about it, and made little screams of horror and disgust as she saw several dark feces worms oozing their way up the side of the rock platform. One of the dark things was actually just unfolding its snout over the top edge of the flat rock. Poor Frederic huddled there, oblivious to the threat.
She issued sharp cries as she stabbed the oozing worms and flung them away, one, two, three-four-five, and finally six of the nasty little buggers. She was getting pretty dexterous in spearing them and flinging them away. Six of the nasty little creatures had almost made it to the top of the rock. She searched and discovered one more squeezing between two rocks. The thing actually seemed to be ducking away, hiding from her. She speared and flung this final worm. Damn, but that was close. If she had continued leading the mass of parasites away, these few would have gained the top, and Frederic, poor Frederic, they would have attacked him in his coma. Were they actually messing with her, trying to trick her? What if they were making her think that she was drawing them away, as part of their plan, to sneak back up into Frederic when she wasn’t looking? Was that just silly?
She scrubbed the tip of the stick in the dirt. She shuddered. She doubted there could be anything worse in any world, which would fill her with such creeping revulsion, as these gooey, nasty parasites escaped from the body of her beloved Frederic.
Then she heard a noise. It sounded like a man, crying out. She climbed onto the flat rock and stood over Frederic, a foot straddling either side of his poor, heaving chest. She looked about, mystified, and then after a moment, she saw him.
The wild man, charging toward her, maybe only a quarter of a mile away, a wild man, charging, running straight toward her and Frederic, some big savage man wielding what looked to be a cartoon-sized ax, a really big and horrible-looking thing. The wild man was charging toward them, running pell-mell, incredibly fast—he would be here in two minutes, if that, and all she had was this stick in her hands.
But no, that wasn’t true. Because in her pocket, she had a secret weapon from another world. And she would deal with this wild man, this savage, as neatly as she had with the muggers from her own world.
“Did you notice the sky?” Frederic mumbled, deliriously, “all the blues? I knew you would love the sky. It can drive you crazy.”
Oh, just let this drooling savage try and get near her Frederic, just let him try!
© Copyright 2017 Douglas Christian Larsen. Rood Der.
Rood Der — Episode Five: Eldritch Purgings
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© Copyright 2017 Douglas Christian Larsen. Rood Der. All Rights Reserved by the Author, Douglas Christian Larsen. No part of this serial fiction may be reproduced (except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews) or transmitted by any means without the written permission of the publisher, Wolftales UNlimited, but please feel free to share the story with anyone, only not for sale or resale. This work is a work of fiction. People, places, events, and situations are the product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or historical events, is purely coincidental (wink, wink).
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