Rumetzen Wl Box

WRITHING INSECTS ON A DARK BACKGROUND aka THE STORY OF LUCAS, NO LAST NAME
In an empty parking garage the child was born with an extra eye. His mother died in childbirth, the father was unknown. Michael, a man always surrounded by smoke, and Danielle, a woman with an octopus living on her head that whispered secrets in her ear, were the only others around to witness his first breaths. They swaddled the child, nursed it on scrounged baby formula, and continued on their journey through the ruined world towards Texas.

When he was three months old, the child they had named Lucas had a vision. He woke screaming in the night with blood leaking from his extra eye. As Michael comforted him, Lucas began to speak. The deep-voiced words were clearly not his own. Not only were they far beyond the scope of any human, let alone an infant, they did not match the kind, wonder-filled sentences he would come to speak in as he grew older. They concerned far off lands that never existed, and writings that had never left the minds of failed, long-dead poets. From that point on the visions would come periodically. As he aged they became more complex, and more of himself seeped into him. By the time he was a year old, speaking full sentences of his own, they had changed from pure abstraction and stories of impossible words to something more reliable. By interpreting his words they learned to grow food, use technology that should have baffled them, and better understand their transformed natures. By the time he was three he had learned to interpret them for himself. All members of the community came to him for guidance.

The community that settled in what had once been Houston originally had 24 permanent members, though hundreds of temporary travelers came through every year. Lucas was the youngest. The next was a 13 year old girl named Sam. She was an original resident of Houston, and along with three others had founded the small colony. Her gift was to create music from thin air. A small blessing, but one of the rare ones that suited its owner’s temperament. The toddler Lucas tried to follow her everywhere she went. She dodged him constantly until one day when the two year old’s eye began to bleed, and he began to speak.

It happened on a rainy spring day. Sam was composing a stormy guitar tune as she tended to the chicken coop. She thought she’d given Lucas the ditch. The toddler had followed her halfway out from the apartments before being scooped up by a concerned adult. But as Sam knelt to take an egg from a nest, she heard a cry, and turning saw the boy’s body collapsed outside of the fence.

She rushed over, cracking in her hurry some eggs in her basket. His head was twitching in a puddle of blood. His two good eyes leaked tears. Sam had heard of these visions but not seen them. She threw open the gate and ran to his side, where she tried to wipe the blood of his face with her raincoat. It flowed too quickly for her to do anything but briefly smear his skin. But when he spoke she stopped.

“Father forgive us. Father deliver us. There ain’t no love in the heart of the city. The woods are wastelands, the deserts have grown green. The lone wanderer traverses them, unseen but seeing all. He does not remember that he is looking for you. He does not know his place though he searches for it. When he finds it he will not be satisfied. When you reunite he will be prepared. Our father who are in heaven, hallowed be thy name. He has travelled to where the mountains grow like gods. He is searching. He cannot find.”

In the cadence of the prayers, and the lyrics of Bobby “Blue” Band, Sam recognized the mannerisms of her father, thought disappeared with all the rest of humanity. She tried to question Lucas for more, but by then the vision had stopped, the bleeding had ended. He was only a sleeping, red child.

It was then that Sam decided to start tracking Lucas’ visions. The others had mostly treated them as harmless diversions. She ventured into shopping malls, old electronics stores. She gave the recording devices she found to everyone who took turns watching Lucas, and instructed them to tape everything. From that point on she let him follow him everywhere, filling journals with notes on his visions. In this way she became his whisperer. Though her father was never found, she came to love the child like a new brother.

By the time Lucas was five the visions rarely came in random, uncontrolled bursts. Like a skilled radio operator he could scan, tune in, change frequencies. But when they came from nowhere, disaster always followed soon after. Once, while fixing a generator, Lucas looked to the sky and began to speak of distant murders, an ever increasing earthquake. Two weeks later, Augustus the Fang attacked. It took three days to drive him and his army of stonewolves away, and when it was over, seven residents were dead.

The worst came in February, three weeks before Lucas’ six birthday. He had it alone, where no one else heard. They found him trembling on the floor of his bedroom. He would not speak of what he saw, only cling desperately to his adopted father.

This time it only took a day for his hidden prophecy to come to pass. The survivors had managed to scrounge up a few bottles of high quality whiskey, and were celebrating in style in the apartment building’s lounge. Lucas begged Michael not to go. The man had long ago learned to trust the boy, and stayed in his room reading an old novel. Unfortunately, the universe had more bigger plans in store for him and his living smoke.

Danielle came up from the room crying. When Michael asked what was wrong, she said Robert had put his arm around her waist. When she asked him to stop, he pulled her in closer. She pushed him away and ran back upstairs. She tried to tell Michael it wasn’t worth doing anything about. He was normally a nice, good man. He’d just had a bit too much to drink and hadn’t realized where the boundary was. Michael wasn’t having it. He stormed downstairs to where Robert and a few others were still lingering, drinking the last of the booze.

Everyone stared as he entered the room. The smoke around him, normally white, had turned almost black. It rumbled slightly as he stalked over to the red-faced man who had threatened his wife. The smoke writhed like a pack of hissing snakes around them. No one could tell what was going on inside of it, and no one was brave enough to step inside themselves. They only listened to Robert’s voice trying to explain himself, and Michael’s angry denials. The sound of Robert’s pleading turning to choking gasps. The three others in the room looked at each other. Elijah, trying to swallow his fear, took a few steps forward. He hesitated, then rushed towards the smoke. Before he could touch it a thick tendril of smog leapt forward, striking his chest. He collapsed to the ground writhing and struggling to breath. Robert’s breath faded, then disappeared.

The smoke wasn’t satisfied with just two deaths. When seven others rushed into the room, summoned by the sound of screaming, Michael was gone and four corpses lay inside. None of the residents saw the man again. Danielle insisted it must have been an accident. Michael was a gentle man. Almost everyone there had experienced the terrifying moment when their gifts, fueled by emotion, had taken on a life beyond the control of their user. But this was too different, the others said. No one had died from these losses of control. And even if the other deaths were accidents, it wasn’t clear if the first to were. No, let him stay gone, and if he ever returned… they would deal with him as necessary. This was how Lucas learned the future could not be changed.

For several years the visions – of any kind, no matter how desperately Lucas tried to summon them back – stopped. He remained in [x] with Danielle. By that point several other children had been born, some with gifts, some without, and plans were beginning for a rudimentary schooling system. Lucas had little need for it. He’d been able to read as well as an adult for over a year, and found any attempts teach him knowledge appropriate for children utterly boring. When one grows up receiving mysteries of the universe, it’s hard to be fascinated by triangles.

Without the visions, his boredom extended into almost everything. The games he used to play, the toddler Melinda he used to lead away on pretend adventures, even the presence of Sam, all failed to lift him from the haze that seemed to reach out from him like Michael’s smoke. He stayed in his room most days, and when forced out of it, did his best to sit on his own and avoid speaking to anyone. Sam tried multiple times to lift his spirits. She took him to the chickens he used to love, and brought him books he hadn’t read, but nothing often. Often, without him realizing, his third eye would begin to leak tears.

Danielle took him to Maria, a 60 year old woman who had been an addiction specialist before the world ended. The boy did his best not to open up to her. Most sessions the boy, now seven, would just sit in silence, no matter how much she questioned him, or give glib answers that revealed no information. One day, several months into their work, after sitting in silence for 20 minutes, Maria asked him a question and he snapped.

“What would you want to see if you could?” she said.

“I want to see a fire! And I want to see all of you in it!” And then he was silent for the rest of the hour.

Three days later, when Danielle entered his room to tell him that the community was about to dinner together and he had to come to them, she found it empty. His backpack and many of his clothes were gone. In the kitchen downstairs, she discovered that food had been stolen. By the time she was able to gather people to search for him, he was almost outside of the city limits. Despite days and weeks of looking, they never found him.

He stumbled across the vast roads between cities, following an instinct that he hoped still contained a trace of his former foresight. He felt little fear. The path, he felt, was set, and he could not have even started his journey without a desperate faith that it would bring him to the person he wished to see. He scrounged a sleeping bag from an old store, and rested often under the stars. Sometimes he spent the night in a house whose owners had vanished, taken by the Calling. When his stolen food ran out, he scrounged up canned goods, found edible plants, a few times even hunted. At times he became desperate, hungry and unsure of where his next meal would be, but he always seemed to find – to be called – towards a solution right when he needed it most.

He had maps of the areas, and knew by the signs he followed that he was heading towards Oklahoma. When he made it there months later, he looted new cartographs and continued the journey. A few times he met wandering people. They were shocked by the sight of a lone child walking the Texas highways, but after talking to him always became convinced that if anyone was capable of surviving the journey, he was. Some offered shelter or assistance. One man insisted that Lucas accompany back to his settlement where, he said over and over, there was hot food, places to rest, and friendly company. Lucas could read the man’s true intentions. He agreed to go with him, followed for one day, then fled during the night.

His wandering ended when he arrived in Tulsa. Lucas had travelled through many large and small cities since he left Houston, guided by the highways. They had all been mostly abandoned, but most had at least one group of people living there. He’d spent time with many of them, always ignoring their requests to stay longer when he left. Tulsa was the first place he found with only a single resident – Louis Stores.

As Lucas approached the city, his third eye began to bleed. It was the first time such a thing had happened since Michael’s disappearance. No visions accompanied it this time, only waves of gripping nausea and roiling fear. About a mile outside of the city, he had to stop, vomit, and rest against the tree. His hands shook as he stared down the road leading onward. Dots darted around his vision, and an hour later, when he tried to push himself to his feet, he collapsed.

He woke up in a large bedroom, alone. The sun was shining through an open window. Though it, Lucas could tell he was on the first floor of a house in a suburban-looking neighborhood. He pushed off the white comforter and walked to the heavy oak door. Listened. Heard nothing. Felt his forehead. The blood was gone, the eye was still.

He opened the door, just a crack, and peeked outside. There was a hallway decorated with posters of old movies, and a kitchen he could just barely glimpse at the end of it. He decided to step out of the door. The feeling of dread, the nausea, was still there, but softer, like it was trapped inside the walls. It was possible to walk to the end of the hallway.

The kitchen was clean, made from mostly stainless steel and white marble. Three potted plants stood on an open windowsill. The sink was empty. Next to it was a drying rack filled with ceramic dishes. Lucas was about to walk further into the house when he heard the toilet flush above him. A new swell of nausea crushed him like a wave. He tried to resist it, tried to maintain his balance, but it swept him up and carried him too quickly to fight. He was already stumbling across the ground, his hand over his mouth to hold back vomit, his vision beginning to grow dim. Not knowing where to, he crawled forward. Back to the room? Would the room protect him? The sound of footsteps coming downstairs. Something clawing at the inside of his stomach and the back of his eyes. A scared animal trying to break free. Unable to hold it back anymore, he spewed vomit across the tiled floor and collapsed.

Whoever it was had reached the end of the stairs. They were behind him now. Do not turn, said a stern voice in his head. No matter what, do not turn around.

“I’m sorry. I thought I’d be able to stop it.”

Instinctively, Lucas looked back at the source of the voice, and saw a monster.

It wasn’t human. It couldn’t have ever been human. It had a vaguely human shape- a torso, clothing, legs, arms, something that should have been a head. But the head had three mouths, and dozens of eyes, and each mouth was constantly twisting and turning and changing position, and the eyes were each a different size and color, rotating at their own angles. Its skin was wet, dripping, the flesh a blue so dark it was almost black. It didn’t have any hair, and the eyes ran over its scalp and down the back of its neck.

Its limbs were crooked, with too many joints. One arm almost touched the floor, the other ended just below the knee. When it walked it lurched, barely able to keep its balance. Its whole body looked up as if it were a puppet being held by invisible threads.

Again it opened one of its mouths and said, in a sonorous voice completely different from the first, “I’ll leave for now. Give you more time to rest.” Another mouth opened. Another voice spoke, deep and raspy. “I’ll be staying in the red house at the end of the street. If you feel like you can, or want, feel free to come visit me. If not, I won’t mind if you leave. We don’t have to ever see each other again. Though I do hope a child all alone would be willing to ask for help.”

It turned and left. Lucas collapsed into darkness.

He woke up at evening, lying next to a stain of dried vomit. Made it back to the bedroom before collapsing. At midnight he woke again with his third eye bleeding and a familiar feeling in the pit of his stomach. Another vision was coming.

Lucas had never described his visions to anyone else. As far as they knew, he was only reciting received words and wisdom. How could they understand what it was like to be pulled into the deepest order of things before you could even fully form thoughts? What would they think if he tried to explain what it was like to travel through the spirals of time that made up the veins of the universe, to witness the eternal, ethereal creatures that slumbered beneath the fabric of all existence? In only seven years of Earth life, he had spent decades wandering these shores and empires and jungles beyond reality. For months at a time, in what seemed to others like the space of a few seconds, he travelled hundreds of miles, always guided towards some truth begging to be discovered and revealed to the rest of the world. He had spoken many times not with gods, but the pure spirits of love and fate and insanity that girded the world. . And when they had abandoned him, it was like being reduced to nothing but an animalistic brain stem. These journeys had grown so second nature that even when the visions disappeared he had still been able to follow their traces based on instinct, to let them guide him through the ordinary world.

When he finally opened all three eyes back into this world, it was like being born for a second time. He stood in a massive, cathedral-like building of pure marble and gold.

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