Here are the rules:
Here's what I would like to do. I want to create a story that branches out in a variety of different, unexpected ways. I don't know how realistic it is, but that's what I'm aiming for. Hopefully, at least one thread of the story can make a decent number of hops before it dies out.
If you are one of the carriers of this story virus (i.e. you have been tagged and choose to contribute to it), you will have one responsibility, in addition to contributing your own piece of the story: you will have to tag at least one person that continues your story thread. So, say you tag five people. If four people decide to not participate, it's okay, as long as the fifth one does. And if all five participate, well that's five interesting threads the story spins off into.
Not a requirement, but something your readers would appreciate: to help people trace your own particular thread of the narrative, it will be helpful if you include links to the chapters preceding yours.
The bus was more crowded than usual. It was bitterly cold outside, and I hadn't prepared for it. I noticed that a fair number of the riders were dressed curiously. As I glanced around, I stretched my feet and kicked up against a large, heavy cardboard box laying under the seat in front of me. (Splotchy)
Rivulets of sweat began cascading down my face and I hurriedly wiped one from my brow before its salty bitterness could burn my precious, precious electric eye. No, the fright couldn't simply be attributed to my allergy to cardboard that always resulted in patches of bloody pustules and mottled skin akin to a poorly applied KISS® -- see, Gene? Put your lawyers away -- makeup job nor the fact that a fair number of the riders were curiously dressed like a toupee-less, yet masterfully make-upped Chaim Witz nor the fact that motionless tentacles were protruding from a number of randomly punched holes in the cardboard box that bore the hideous label Contents, frozen spawn of Old One, 72 oz. nor the realization that I had forgotten my glasses and couldn't see not whom, but what, was slowly shambling down the aisle towards me, its apparently glistening appendages slopping on the possibly filthy floor of this potential deathtrap of a bus recklessly driven by an attractively miniskirted, yet maniacal, maniac, her lapel bearing a button barely visible underneath a swath of jet-black hair and emblazoned with I worship Dagon, ask me how!, which I never did by the way.
No, the fright couldn't simply be attributed to any of those mundane things. My wind wandered, dreaming up all sorts of misadventure where I stared death in the face and he stared back and then we had a series of staring contests of which I think I won nearly 40% of them, an excellent number against an entity bearing a head-lopping scythe, don't you think?
I stared out the window, and the undulating, slowly shifting, tree-saturated landscape stared back. I won that contest but quickly remembered the old saw about looking into the abyss and having it stick its tongue out. I pulled my electric eye back into the bus and stared ahead instead.
Next, a cavalcade of nervous fumbling and rummaging through my pockets to make sure I had an extra nine volt battery. I did -- the apparently glistening appendages slopping ever closer amidst a cacophony of bizarre, intermittent noise -- so I knew I wouldn't have to worry about my electric eye running out of juice until I got back.
Which, of course, turned out to be the case, for how else could you be reading this erratic, poorly-written account of horror, unless you stumbled upon the abandoned wreckage of the bus and were rifling through my strangely mutilated corpse severely underdressed for the freezing weather and found this sheet of crumpled and charred paper riddled with poor penmanship along with my wallet that contained a drivers license, library card, work ID, three singles and a bus ticket!
But you didn't because I'm not dead, for I just handed the bus ticket to the shambling beast which indeed was slimy for it -- and it, despite its general human visage, was the most accurate description I could muster -- was close enough that I didn't need my glasses.
"Last stoop fer yew vis'turs."
Ahead in the distance, beyond the cardboard box's melting water -- at least, I assumed it was water, and you know what they say when you assume: Nyarlathotep tears you a new one, chump -- pooling at my feet, the creepy troupe of riders and the inhuman coughing of it, bathed by the light of the red moon, I saw the low, yet eerily distinct skyline of Arkham. (Randal)
Arkum hums with a high electric whine, a noise that is like tinnitus to the nth. The man with the monocle who was so strangely dressed coughed on me as the bus lurched to a stop. I hope it wasn't the virus. Now I hunch my shoulders against the freezing wind that hugs the frozen ground. I have two cloptomiters to go before I'm home and it's dark but for the purple neon gloom, looking like a distant nuclear disaster but is merely low light bouncing off the distant metropolis along with the nearly unbearable high whine. And then the wind blows it back upon itself and for a few moments of relief I almost hear silence. I can barely see the ground beneath my feet.
What was I thinking when I dressed for the day? My feet are freezing. Thank the dog for the electric eye. I can see the faintly pink glow of my signature footprint along this well trod strip of stone. But it seems eerily empty for now. Odd. This time of night is usually humming with voices coming out of the dark. All I hear is the high city hum and the wind. Several layers of skirts fly up from a gust of wind and I almost topple backward. These tall rubber boots on their platforms are wonderful in a crowd, extend the stride, and strengthen the buttocks, lifting its heft of weight into the air like a pillow. But skirts?
I hear the dog once and know I will turn left half way up the lane to my bunker. His voice always rings out once when I reach this spot and even without the eye I turn left, arm raised, palm flattened upward to make contact with the wire of the compound. I trail my gloved fingers along the fence until I feel the gate. Here I must remove my glove and place my naked palm against the freezing surface of the palm ID pad. And it slides open almost silently. I enter and hear it slide shut behind me. It locks with a hollow sound that makes me shudder with pleasure. Now small photocell lights flank the path like little pale full moons.
I have a single bunker. I am gifted in certain arts. I can talk to the mad and read their minds. I can smell danger. And I am old. No small accomplishment in these times. So the dog, as he calls himself, and I live together in a cube of concrete with a pyramid roof alone, in silence, but for the sound of my own voice softly talking to myself and his rare great bark or low growl.
He doesn't rise when I come in. But I hear him panting softly in his dark corner. The room is only warmed with his body heat. All the fuel was burned long ago. But food will be brought for both of us. He could so warm me better if we slept together but he will not. So I wear all my clothes trying to keep from shivering. I would never ask to sleep in his bed but have invited him into mine. Often. No luck.
And now before my fingers stiffen in the cold I must answer the questions sent to me by the mad. Only the mad understand the mad, but not all the mad have my gift to hear their inner voices. We are all somewhat gifted. Some of us have visions, hear voices, but I can only listen to the inner voice, the one that never says aloud what it most fears.(Utah Savage)
The irony of hating that Will Smith movie where he was the only pure human he knew of makes me laugh until I cry only once a day usually, but this makes the second time today.
I'd like to be able to distract myself from this existence as I sometimes can with some maudlin or quirky tale that was uploaded to this confounded eye, but for the time being I just place it on its charger, wondering yet again what renewable substance has been able to sustain the charger's life these 25 years. If I knew that, would I be freezing here like this?
I wish someone, anyone, could or would answer that question. I wish Lilith were here to ponder it with me.
Yes, there are the halflings, but they really are not very good company. The electronic portions of them seem to override most of their humanness. But, compared to those the blogoscopic entities have fully infiltrated, they are a veritable schmorgesborg of spontaneity. I am not sure if I should admit that my insane mother was right and that my "specialness" would "save" me in the end, but those like me are few and far between these days.
What was once a blessing, my telepathic tendencies, has become such a curse that I would no doubt kill myself were it not for Lilith. My only hope is to find her. (Freida Bee)
My human part slept while my body electric recharged its high capacity 9 volt battery and spare. Visions and algorithms of chaos and order merged into organic patterns that ultimately morphed into circuit boards with dendritic hierarchies of contacts and junctions. The damn things recurred every night in increasingly complex ways. Start with a fern and a laptop and merge them at ever deeper levels to the nth degree, then throw in the spikes of fear and uncertainty that only occur in dreams and that is close to what I experienced.
My circuits were designed explicitly to increase my ability to absorb the impossible, but they can only do so much. When a person is strolling along on that perfect day only to become a witness to Fishmen devouring the sanity of best friends and professors; well, it is just too much for even electronics to bear. A cleft formed between my organic and electronic parts.
I rambled through Arkham analyzing the meaningless life forms carrying on what they believed were normal lives. What dupes! My electric eye could see the sub-nanometer band, viewing parasites feeding on the souls of so many, sapping them of confidence and ambition. I tried to feel some compassion, but the firewall stopped me and I felt nothing.
When I finally found Lilith, she was horrified at the abomination I had become. I was crestfallen and it seemed as though I choked on a thousand copper wires trying to maintain a semblance of humanity. Humanity was losing and I couldn't stop it. I knew then that she would become bait in my quest to vanquish the Old Ones. (Don Snabulus)
I had to approach the matter delicately. Mere lack of humanity would be no excuse as far as Lilith was concerned; she was so particular about such things. When she moved she always did so with purpose. Every step, every breath, every twitch in the nether regions, every time her arm flexed in that characteristic way it always did whenever she scratched her left eyebrow (which always annoyed the spit out of me), it was all part of her routine. As far as I knew she was still as much in the flesh as when she was born, but there were often times when she seemed more mechanical than I. Her wires were of a different sort from mine; they were woven from ego rather than alloy.
I remember clearly how I struggled to find the words. Unfortunately, when the implants had gone in, my imagination had gone out. Improvisational eloquence used to be second nature to me, but like a thesaurus that had accidentally gone through the wash, I was left only with so many incoherent smudges in my mind. I stammered and quickly shoved the stammer into yet another box of meaningless small talk. But she was too sharp for that.
"Huh!" she said. Strange. It wasn't a "Huh?" of curiosity; rather, it was a "Huh!" of idiotic amusement.
I asked her what was wrong, and I got only more "huh"s.
No, that was wrong. I remembered that day clearly. She hadn't said or done any of that. The memory was all wrong. My recollection of that day had somehow become corrupted. Had they found me out? Were they using some nameless telepathic conduit into my soul to twist my memories into a blasphemous abomination?
No, wait. It was even more wrong, for I knew I was no longer thinking of that day. So the "huh"s weren't coming from my memory at all, then. They were in the Here and Now! I immediately suspected the dog, but when I glanced over at him he was (unfortunately) sleeping peacefully. Where, then? Where was it coming from?
"Huh huh huh!"
Then it came. That sudden, sharp impact. It sent a jolt through my senses far greater than any psychic flatulence Yog Sothoth had ever lobbed at me. It was total; it permeated me, became my reality, shifted my reality...
And then I woke up. And I saw HIM. There he was, that sorry, bloated, empty-headed, buzz-cut argument against evolution. He was standing there in front me, retracting the hand he had just used to pop me on the head. In his other hand he held...NO!!!
My precious, newly-bought book!!! My beloved tome from the alien gods!!!! It was in the flabby paw of that vile creature!!!!!
"Huh huh huh!" he farted from his mouth. "What's this, you little fag?" He looked at the book with a look that spoke of pure vacuum. "'The Best of H.P. Lovecraft'? Who the f*** is that?"
"Give that back, Bob!" I cried, dismayed at the wimpy sound of my own voice.
Really, Bob wasn't his name, but it amused me to call him that. His name, if uttered correctly (virtuously impossible by other than just a few halfborgs) would drive even the strongest willed into utter madness. Even the most frivolous thought of his name in your mind would strike a pain so profound, that you would surly be struck dumb and blind.
I saw Bob turn the book over in his hands several times, as if handling a smelly fish, before setting it down again carefully on the table by the door. As Bob turned his gaze to me, I felt a new chill run down my legs. "WHO THE F*** IS THAT!!!!", he screamed at me, spittle spraying my face like a sloppy afternoon rain. "HUH HUH HUH HUH HUH HUH!!!!!"
At that very moment, it dawned on me the reason I had even left the bunker, the sole purpose of my trip on the bus, endangering my self... no! my soul! to the fury of the Old Ones. Somehow Bob's touch had disoriented me, and sent my thoughts reeling towards panic, fear, and lust?!
The WORD. Not so much a word in the literary sense, but a spoken sound accompanied by a rapid series of pictures in the mind. With practice, it can be used as a terrible weapon, but even in its most primitive state, can be used as a shield against evil. For some, it would be nigh-unlearnable, but for one with an electric eye and a 40 Dodecabyte memory, it is possible. Oh no! The eye!
I flung myself from the ice covered chair that was my bed, and rolled across the floor towards the charger. I knew I was likely to fail, Bob being so close, and having seen the book, but I had to try. For the dog at least! Yes, I was doing this for the dog, for though I could endure an enternity of torment, I could not bear to see the dog come to harm.
Bob continued to scream incoherently for seconds at the empty chair, before his thousand eyes were able to comprehend my futile motion. As he realized my attempt of escape, he found such great amusement that he started to (oh the horror!) laugh! If I had not already been mad, the sound of it might have delivered me there faster than microwave popcorn. Instead, it was merely a reminder of how important my task was, and gave me the strength to proceed.
I thrust my good hand at the charger, and grabbed at the eye, but it was slippery with cold, and shot up into the air!! Noooo!! I fell to the ground, and a shadow flitted past my vision towards the airborne eye, grabbing it in a spitty mouth. All hope was surely lost, and I felt sorry for the dog and the pain that was coming.
But the light changed, and for just a moment, I thought I saw an angel. Indeed it was an angel, as the boot sequence for the eye includes a splash screen of an Angel representing the company by which it was designed. I looked quickly around to see that the dog has somehow recovered and installed the eye in my socket, and was sacrificing life, limb and mind to keep Bob from proceeding. I did not hesitate to launch the sequence of pictures, and speak the WORD.