A shudder of revulsion rocked through me at the sound of each mangled phoneme. I could hear her voice, but it dripped with caustic venom, dragging over hot coals buried in the deepest ocean and clawing at the edges of sanity with angry talons. It was wrong. These awful words, this sickening language was never meant to be spoken by man. Science won’t support me, but I know in my bones these words have power man wasn’t meant to use…
The Hollow Man
above your bed
With hollow eyes
deep slumber fed
His hollow dreams
may fill your head
But never peek
or you’ll be dead…
His movements were those of something learning how to use his body for the first time, shaky and slightly confused, but absolutely determined to make it work. His feet landed like lead weights, threatening to snap his ankles at each step when the body weight followed. And when he spoke it was with a voice thick and slow, like he’d popped some uppers after downing a bottle of NyQuil and was caught in the slurred limbo between the two.
We worked the earth with solemn purpose. No one spoke of timer countdowns or challenge requirements. We did what we had to do to honor the dead. If we worked a little faster than we might have otherwise, it was only so we wouldn’t be digging more graves before dawn.
An ominous red button swam into view as I scrolled to the end of the list. “Accept Terms?” it asked, waiting for me to tap it. I couldn’t tell you why, but in that moment a thread of panic tightened around my heart. I thought about just grabbing Chris and running for the car, but I knew the dummy would have already accepted the terms, so I was stuck. For better or worse I was already a part of this, whether I tapped that button or not.
He looked kinda sweaty. Like he’d been running a marathon. He had this wild look in his eyes when he stalked up to the desk, and his eyes never stopped moving around the room. He said he was looking for a notebook…
“It was like a one-family Roanoke; food was on the table, lights were left on, no sign of struggle, all their stuff left behind, and, most upsetting to us, the front door was left wide open. Police were stumped, but we thought we knew exactly what had happened.”
The admin override would launch the missiles no one beyond Deep Root 6 knew existed. A controlled explosion in the upper atmosphere would turn the clouds and the very air into agents of death while a viral command override launch code would loose a barrage of nuclear missiles the world over to destroy all life on the ground below.
I had felt the blood quicken in my veins when I spied her alone. The distended girth of her belly had filled me with awe and a tentative joy, but it was when I had discovered that she was but one half of a bonded (and obviously breeding) pair that my considerable, though already quivering self-control was pushed to its limits.
He’d only made fifteen of the thousand he needed to complete the set, but they dominated the studio, all strung up along the ceiling in a well-ordered row. He’d loved the way the light had danced along their silver and gold embellishments as they’d kept silent watch over him and his ongoing projects below; the collective embodiment of peace, as they were always meant to be.
I actually did not notice the day they stole my body and replaced it with something else. Its function is the kind of elegant simplicity that so perfectly imitates life on the surface that if I hadn’t stopped to actually look I don’t think I ever would have realized.