Another Reality In The Rear-view Mirror, Part 1

Driving down a country lane on a snowy day, I whipped out my iPhone and took a photo of the farm I was passing. It was simultaneously beautiful and haunting. The landscape felt ancient and as if it was filled with a power only the most sensitive of us can detect.

Along I drove, still dazzled by the farm. As soon as I pulled up to my house and parked, the phone was out of my pocket and the farm photo staring me in the face. Something very strange about that place. I need to go back and look around a bit, I thought.  Then it jumped out at me, and goose-flesh rippled along my arms and neck.

In the photo, you see my rear-view mirror. And in the mirror, to put it as simply as possible, there was a mirror image of our world that was, at the same time, in stark contrast. Of course, my rational mind demanded that this was some sort of illusion, or trick of light, but I knew it wasn’t.

The Other World’s lighting was dim, and with a reddish hue. The geography, while almost identical, looked ancient and elongated. And there was a strange, tall, four-legged animal in the background. It looked like a cross between a zebra and a giraffe. During winter. An hour north of NYC.

To get a better look at my rear-view in the photo, I double-tapped the photo to enlarge it. The picture enlarged and kept expanding, swallowing me entirely, and spit me into the Other World. It–the “travel” to this other existence–felt warm and disgusting, slimy and mind-bending.

I was just shat into another existence. 

Looking around, I saw the street I grew up on–only it wasn’t. The street name was the same, the number of houses were the same, but the appearance of the houses was different. Instead of early-1900s Victorians, the street was lined with 5-story dwellings that were octagonal in shape, covered in tree bark, and reinforced with glittering, solidified sap.

In the sap, I saw a reflection my reflection. My clothes looked weird–pathetic, even–akin to the jumpsuit Captain Kirk wore on Star Trek. I was still myself though, a stocky, 31-year-old bearded guy with light brown hair. And now nice of my belly to follow me into an alternate reality

The air felt thinner and more crisp, the sun was a rusty red instead of orange, and the trees were much taller–almost stretching into the orange-tinted clouds–and bright brown, instead of deep green. This may sound ugly to you, but I assure you there was an ethereal beauty about this place that is unforgettable.

Still in shock, but finally coming out of it, I unglued my feet from the pavement–it wasn’t actually pavement, but a sort of scorched, melted gravel–and took a step. I left the ground briefly, semi-lunging 3 feet into the air, and came back down 6 feet ahead of where I was standing, almost falling forward onto my confused face. What the hell? I thought to myself. There’s hardly any gravity here. 

Something that sounded like a pinball getting thrown into a bowl of jello drew my attention to the left. A spindly, bipedal humanoid about 12′ tall materialized from a slit in one of the bark-covered octagonal houses. Long, wispy hands on its narrow hips, this thing stared at me with piercing gray eyes the size of human fists, from a long, narrow, smooth face. It was the color of the palest Scandinavian. It looked like the caricature of a vampire.

Fuck my rear-view mirror, I thought to myself as I took this creature in. Terrified beyond explanation, I cautiously took a step forward, keeping in mind the lack of gravity. The spindly humanoid didn’t flinch. It was twice my height, yet 80lbs lighter at no more than 130lbs.

If it tries anything, I’ll punch it in half and fly away. 

“What are you?”, it asked while covering the distance between us in one long step.

“I’m a human. I don’t know where I am”, was the response that came out of my mouth from a place that seemed a mile away.

“That can’t possibly be, for I am human being.”, replied the spindly creature, regarding me with its massive eyes. “Please do not harm me. I cannot imagine the strength of a being constructed such as yourself.”

“I’m too goddamn scared to hurt anyone. Where am I?”, I asked while shooting glances in every direction, trying my hardest to make sense of the familiar, yet alien, surroundings.

“You are in Contemporary Jorq. The territory is the Unified Conglomerates of Amettiqua, and this here sphere is Aerthe. I know you are not of this sphere. Any man with blinking eyes can discern this.”, replied Shaq’s vertical superior.

Jesus fucking Christ. What is going on here? Why does this all make perfect sense and absolutely no sense at all? 

This “human” was almost as terrified as I was. That was clear. We were equally curious. Difference is that this thing was in its world, and I wasn’t. I was in a some stretched out alien reality that was a confusing mirror or my own. Oh, but how different it was.

Am I even in my own universe anymore? I don’t think so.

“Come, Being of Immense Strength. We have much to concern ourselves with, and my nearest and dearest would have a keenness to chatter with you. Perhaps this is the most momentous instance in our human saga.”…

Nightmare: A Pumpkin In a Straight Jacket

According to my phone, it was 2:36 AM. The air was thick, warm, and humid. My childhood friends and I were walking down a hushed road at the edge of town, sparsely lined by old, dilapidated houses and industrial brick buildings. A fog surrounded us, floating off the creek like an army of restless phantasms, and out of the thick forest like wispy, skeletal tendrils.

Everything was wrong. The world felt…off. To my right, something crashed along the treeline. It was huge. “Motherfucker!”, Rob said, startled, as he whipped his head to the right while reflexively balling his fists up. “What the fuck was that?”

“I really don’t know.”, was the only stupid reply I could muster. And even as the thought crossed my mind, I did know what it was. Somehow, I knew whatever we were dealing with was unadulterated evil. A primal fear overcame me, and my heart began thudding. It was beating so hard as to be painful.

Jay’s white V-neck was drenched in sweat the color of feral cat piss, and his hooded eyes somehow bugged out of his chinless face. “I knew I shouldn’t have come out with you guys tonight. Every time I do, shit always get wrecked. We’re going to get killed tonight.”

“Shut the fuck up!” Rob sputtered harshly, brow furrowed under his dark widow’s peak. He flicked open his pocketknife and glanced towards the forest. “If there’s ever been a time where you shouldn’t be bitching, now is it.”

I wanted to tell them something evil was upon us. Not only upon us, all around us. All around everything. No matter what we did, we were never going to make it out of this mess. Even if we somehow escaped right now, we would find ourselves in a similar predicament again. But this mess was what, exactly? I couldn’t grasp its entirety. It was something I felt, but didn’t understand. Rob seemed to understand why it was happening, but couldn’t feel how serious it was.

As we approached the urban beginnings of our small city, a large, round red light exploded out of the fog 200 yards to our rear. “Run!”, Rob screamed. “It’s the red light.”

What the fuck is the red light?”, I thought to myself, as Rob and Jay took off at physically impossible speeds toward a baseball field 500 feet up the road. They disappeared into the swirling fog.

As I lethargically approached the field and made a right turn onto the grass, the fog thickened and gained some kind of weight. It felt oppressive. It felt alive.

I’m fucked, I thought to myself, simultaneously getting annoyed and even more frightened. “Whatever you are, come out and get this over with. I’m tired of worrying about your shit.”

To my left, a small strip of high grass and shrubs sat on a sloped embankment separating the baseball field from a dimly-lit street. There was something in there, watching me. It was seeking me. Hungry. Desperate, and with a purpose.

I  was alone. It was evident that Jay and Rob were gone. They abandoned me. How did they move at such incredible speeds, and why can’t I run normally? Why do my legs feel like lead? “Guys!”, I shouted frantically while spinning in circles. “I’m going to need help here!”

There wasn’t going to be any help. Slowly I walked toward the embankment, facing the inescapable terror that would get me one way or the other.

“Come out, asshole.”

As soon as the words left my mouth, an immense “pumpkin” in a straight jacket busted out of high grass and started writhing down the embankment (writhing is the best descriptor I have, but the way it moved was nonviable).

It wasn’t really a pumpkin, but resembled a Halloween jack-o’-lantern. It had blazing, shafting orange eyes akin to a jack-o-lantern’s, but the eyes weren’t really eyes and the color wasn’t exactly orange. It was “running” on legs that weren’t really legs, and it was trying to escape from its straight jacket with arms that weren’t really arms.

I know this doesn’t make sense, but it was almost as if this thing was fluid and formless while trying to have the form I described to you. This thing is intelligent on a cosmic scale, and this form is the best it can do? is the thought that crossed my mind.

Worst of all, this piece of shit wanted me. It wanted me for reasons we can only fear, and will never understand. It wanted me for reasons that were evil beyond human understanding, and intelligent beyond any earthly intellect. It was the manifestation of every possible worst case scenario, and it’s mission was as immense as it was insane. This thing belonged to a thousand worlds, and a million realities.

Pointlessly I ran, and as the “pumpkin” caught and enveloped me, I woke.Drenched in a sweat, I sat up bed. The terror spilled into reality for the next hour. There would be no more sleep the rest of this night.

What bothered me most wasn’t the nightmare itself. It was that I felt as if I was about to understand this diabolical thing’s purpose as it caught me. It was evil–evil to us, at least–but it had an important objective.