|The Transformation Story Archive||Strange Things and other Changes|
Sometimes I'd go out to the pit at night when I couldn't sleep. The Product Manager, Mr. Jameson, had sent me off to the psychiatrist at least a dozen times in the past for such behavior, and the shrink had dutifully poked and prodded at me and pronounced me sane each time. And still I'd come back to the pit. I had a theory that the pit really bothered Mr. Jameson and that he was foisting those emotions and fears off on me, but I'm sure he'd never stoop to seeing the psychiatrist himself.
Maybe that's one of the reasons I come out to the pit so much -- just to bother him.
Far, far below the catwalks and arc lamps above the pit you could see the black ooze. It writhed and spilled around the walls of its natural stone prison under its own power. We guessed it was alive, but nobody was quite sure yet. So far, we had no idea what it was during the past four months of study and research.
In fact, we haven't gotten so much as a sample yet; everytime we try to get one, it pulls away, pulls back, protects itself. Intelligent behavior if you ask me. Dr. Samuels went down into the pit himself on the end of a crane to try to scoop some up personally in desperation and curiosity. He had gotten down to about a foot from the surface and was starting to bend over with his collection tool in hand when the thing erupted all around him, higher than we thought it could go. When everything had calmed down and all us scientists had stopped screaming, Samuels was gone. It had eaten him, just like in that old horror movie someone had imported from Earth a few weeks back.
We have suspicions that it's eaten a couple other people too, people who have turned up "missing" around the complex. Damned spooky if you ask me. Sometimes I have to wonder just how far it can reach up the shaft of the pit. Very spooky to think such thoughts at night, alone.
Tonight was a quieter night than usual. It felt good to be out of quarters, out of the day-by-day grind. Maybe tonight's the night to call in that sexual favor from Jameson's secretary. My mind wandered in thoughtfulness for a moment.
There was a tap on my shoulder, and when I turned, there was only darkness. I felt like I was falling...
The night was kind of foggy. I could see the moon above through some distant misty clouds in the brownish night sky. I stood at the back of the suburban yard, holding an ice-cold drink in my hand. I felt good.
Far off on the other side of the fenced-in yard I could see some of my friends holding a barbeque. I'd go join them in a moment. Casually I looked over my shoulder at the adjoining yard beyond the fence only to see that the entire yard was filled with the black ooze from the pit to about a four-foot level. The surface was smooth and glassy; there was no movement now. I felt terror in some deep part of my being that didn't quite surface in me. Perhaps it was shock.
"You know the rules, don't you?" asked a familiar voice. I looked back to find that the people having the barbeque had walked over to me, were surrounding me against the fence.
"Dr. Samuels?" I asked.
"The rules are simple," Samuels continued, ignoring my question. "We can touch you all you want, but if you touch us, you lose." His eyes seemed to crinkle with humor, but all I could see in his eye-sockets was a small black roiling mass.
They started towards me, all six of them with outstretched grasping hands, as I realized that the ooze was in them, had taken them and was controlling them. With a burst of fear I ducked and ran between Samuels and a man I recognized as a missing janitor from the complex. They turned and came after me in a single group, and as a single group they chased me around and around the yard. Over every barrier was another pool of the black ooze from the pit; there was no escape.
I had to catch my breath for a moment after several laps, and that's when a former shuttle pilot tackled me, bearing me to the ground. In sheer terror I remained absolutely still as the other men clustered around me and held down my arms and head and legs.
"You know if you move now, you'll touch one of us and lose," Samuels whispered in my ear. I gulped and held perfectly still, hoping against hope that this was a nightmare that soon would end. A long silent time passed as sweat poured down my face. I would not move, I will not move.
Something on the ground bit my littlest finger and when I recoiled against their arms, they laughed. I could feel a coldness seeping up my arm and I closed my eyes in simultaneous surrender and relief.
I opened my eyes on a starless black void. I was floating in space with no ground in sight. After my initial panic of falling, I began to sort things out in my mind.
"You're mine now," a voice whispered in my ear without warning. I turned my head to see no one there.
"All mine," the voice whispered in my other ear. There was no one on that side either.
"You cheated!" I yelled. My voice seemed lost in the void, powerless and weak.
"No cheating, no cheating." said the voice behind me. No matter how I twisted I couldn't find the speaker of the voice.
"How fair is it to hold down your opponent to force them to lose?" I responded snidely.
"You don't." The voice was on my left.
"Seem to understand." It continued on my right.
"You are in me." It said from all around me, and the void broke up into little black globules in all directions, millions upon millions of them. They began to crowd in towards my body and I threw up my arms in front of my face in defense.
"Everything you touch is me. Everything you breathe is me." Now I could tiny little globules floating in the void around me, flowing in out of my mouth as I breathing quickened. The big spheres of ooze came in contact with me then and began pressing all over my body with a terrible crushing force.
"You are me, now," said the voice.
The suburban back yard looked just the same as it did before. Directly above me I could see the moon looking distant in the brownish night sky. If I squinted, I could imagine that I could see movement across its face; little people walking on tiny catwalks looking down at me.
Across the yard I could see Dr. Samuels standing by himself. Slowly I walked up to him, watching him carefully for sudden movements. He turned from inspecting the yard beside ours and stared me in the eyes for a moment.
"What's going on?" he asked in confusion. "How did I get here?"
"You know the rules, don't you?" I asked him.
Immaculate Deception copyright 1996 by d. page.
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