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The following is rated R for graphic content.

I wrote the following a week or so ago and went with it. I hadn't intended it to be the intro to a novel I had in my mind, but as I wrote it I realized that it was the start of this idea I have carried around for a while.

Although I plan to continue The Schoolteacher this summer, I consider this more a "fun" project that I am not very attached to, but enjoy working with the material. Not sure if that makes much sense, but that's where this story comes from.


Hail fell from the sky and the wind blew, whistling through the trees and between the houses, stacked row upon row in the city where the hail fell. Clouds and sky above came to odds, boiling over each other, fighting for dominance, with only the hail to show for their efforts.

Heads held down, the people scurried about, trying frantically to get to their destinations in that moment, hands and arms raised to protect their faces. In the distance, the howling of the approaching storm announced its arrival.

Faces peered nervously from behind closed curtains, giving eyes to every window in the city. Children cuddled around the feet of their caretakers. Animals skulked in the wake of the wind that grew in force and intensity. Loose debris on the ground became airborne, filling the streets with obstacles that vehicles and pedestrians frantically worked to avoid, even as they slammed against windshields, windows, and walkers alike.

Spring had crawled out of her dark slumber and brought with it the rages of her morning fury. As nature stretched her arms and legs, the world itself seemed to shudder awake in response to her wake-up cries. Thunder and lightning rolled in the distance as the trees, with greenery sprouting, waved their arms by the call of the season. Grass, reaching for the skies after the long hibernation, trembled in the presence of the shattering gusts of spring.

Hail turned to rain and rain turned to mist. These events traded places many times and shared command amongst each other as the earth flexed arms that had been dormant for too many months. As had happened before, the mist turned to rain and the rain turned to hail.

A horrid downpour followed, filling the hollows of the earth with pools of life-giving water. Ground, so wanting for thirst, welcomed each drop of rejuvenation. The symbiotic creatures of the planet came to the surface, rejoicing in the life that was renewed. Snails, worms, and snakes danced in the onslaught, fearful not of hail or horrifying wind.

However, the residents that watched the weather come forth, huddled in their homes and watched with worry as the spring erupted around them. Never before had they seen the earth furiously run around them nor had they seen the skies rumble with such angry fury.

As hail pelted down upon the town with anger and hatred, people trapped in the streets grouped together under awnings and doorways, finding themselves next to strangers afraid and mystified with wonder at all that was going on around them.

The spring had arrived, yes. Yet, this was unlike any spring anyone had seen before.

In the uneasy consolation of her home, Alicia watched in silence as her yard trembled with fear, her house cried out in pain, and her soul shuddered with trepidation. In the torrential rains that followed, she knew that something out there had come with the rain. An evil, from some darkest nightmare of the planet, had crawled out from the chasms of nature itself and that evil was here, in her yard, for her.

* * * * *

Alicia looked out her window at the rain falling outside. She watched as the rain pelted against her window, turning her view of the outside yard into a muddled pool of grey, black and green. Looking up at the sky, she could only see a black layer of clouds hovering above the countryside, lightning giving brief structure to the storm that was clambering through the valley.

The library had been closed for three days now and Alicia was starting to miss work. Not that she disliked the work, but often she had hoped for a more lively job where she wasn’t the only one on shift for ten hours.

The often looked forward to the visits from people who came regularly. To Alicia, that was the closest she had to a friend. Now here, as she watched the storm alone, she realized that all those ... customers.... were at home, with their families, worrying about their own.

She drew the curtains closed and turned towards the television. The provincial news channel, something she always had on when she was home, was giving her static and muffled noises from the singular speaker on the right side of the unit. As she scanned for the remote, she pushed the thoughts of her loneliness to the side. Always welcome to find distractions from the noises in her head, she focussed singularly on her latest worry.

The weather had prevented her from wanting to make the fifty minute journey to town for groceries. Although she always had plenty to eat in her cupboards, she often looked forward to the social interaction of shopping. The small town had given her a sense of belonging. Even if these people never thought much of her, they at least remembered her name and smiled at her when she would run into them downtown. These small comforts kept her going from week to week.

The remote was nowhere to be found. Alicia slowly walked towards the television, trying to remember how the buttons on the front of the TV even worked. The wind howled outside and she heard the rain turn to hail. The metal roof of her trailer roof echoed every icy, direct hit as a sharp ping. Trying to block out the noise, she reached for the channel buttons on the front panel of her TV. The subtle noises in the static became louder as she fiddled with the controls. She thought she had found the channel button, however had only managed to turn the volume all the way up.

The room became filled with the guttural noises of some - no, not some - the guttural sounds of many voices, vying for vocal control above the din of the static. She heard slithering noises, not unlike that of a horde of small snakes in a brood. Beyond that she heard horrible animal noises and liquid bubbling in a chaotic rhythm. She stood up, hoping to dissuade the noises. Instead of avoiding the vocal shards, she realized that the static was coming only from the TV. The other noises - they were coming outside.

Turning towards the window, Alicia stared deep into the darkness outside. Slowly, with cautious steps, she slipped toward the window. She could hear noises very near to her, moving about only feet away from her. Amidst the noises, she almost felt as if the animals slithering outside were talking to each other, the rhythm of their dialogue almost entrancing.

She thought she had seen something move out of the corner of her eye. She turned quickly just as the power went out. Darkness snapped into focus, bringing temporary darkness until her eyes adjusted. When they did, Alicia found herself staring into the gaping jaw of a dark-skinned creature, its entire body composed of flailing tendrils and plant vines. Smaller creatures clung to the walls of her living room, sliding and oozing about with frenetic intention, interacting with the body of the creature.

Her glasses fogged up and the room became muggy and began to smell of compost. Water condensed on the ceiling and on the vines that moved between her legs. Slowly, the living room faded away as Alicia became surrounded by the creature and the jungle that arose from it. Strange coloured plants erupted from the tendrils of the creature, coating its body in serene vegetation and belying its true intent.

Outside, the noise of the storm could still be heard, but the sound of it was slowly fading as the creature enveloped her in a tight hold. She felt the tendrils whip against her body and the vines start to wrap around her body. Straight ahead, the mouth of the creature, which almost was the size of its entire head, lurched forward and punctured Alicia’s rib cage. The venom immediately sent her into paralysis. Her body disappeared and Alicia found herself conscious, but frozen in her mind, only able to stare out into a room that she felt completely detached from.

She watched as the creature held her in place, sucking up the blood flowing from her chest. Around her, the vines were wrapping tighter around her extremities. Tendrils poked at her face. She watched unwillingly as small spores erupted from boils on the tendrils of the monster. The spores were sucked in and out of her lungs. Some landed on her eyes and she watched in absolute terror as the spores immediately sprung roots into her eyes, blocking her vision out.

Not being able to feel anything and not being able to see anything, but knowing something unholy was happening to her body, Alicia’s mind shut down. Like a breaker going out, Alicia’s higher brain functions collapsed.

Plunged into darkness, all that was Alicia ceased to be.

Outside, the rain storm stopped. The grey clouds faded. For the first time in a week, the sun had come out.

The home where Alicia lived was gone. In it’s place stood a deep forest that blended in with the wooded lands where Alicia used to live. Deep inside that forrest, the person once known as Alicia woke up. Her body, now used as a vessel for the encroaching evil, lay centre focus in a giant web of plants and flesh, pulsating with life. Alicia stood poised as Queen of this new colony, freshly created and virgin to this world. All she had absorbed in knowledge from all the previous worlds was now carried on in this new body. What the old Alicia knew now belonged to the newly created Alicia, a merging of this world to the old world. The merging gave birth to the new Alicia, fresh born and full of wonder and foreboding.

Alicia looked around her and understood the purpose she had been chosen for. Feeling the greatness rise inside, she laughed out loud. The strange creatures now lining the forest floor turned to look at her. They danced in her laughter, brief though it was. These creatures were hers now - her children, her brood. She smiled at them and watched as they continued on their way, spreading out from her nest and into the town beyond.

The invasion had begun. Alicia laughed again. Far too many worlds had given up fierce resistance. She relished in the enjoyment of an easy colonization.

The wind, now finding its own voice, gave resistance as her laughter echoed coldly through the forrest. The sun shone down upon the virgin village that lay beyond her nest.

When the laughter stopped, the sound of unearthly creatures filled the forrest.

Then silence followed.

Alicia waited patiently - for the screaming to start.

I'll say it loud here by your grave / those angels can't
ever take my place
somewhere where the the orchids grow / I can't find those church bells
that played when you died - 'Playboy Mommy', Tori Amos

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The following comments are for "Portal"
by Zebralicious

Let me start off by saying that this is not a bad story. Mechanically, it reads quite well, with only one or two errors along the way. Descriptively, it's fleshed-out, and the pictures generated, especially by the attack upon Alicia are very good. In terms of story, however, there's something lacking somewhere. The set-up at the beginning sounds like a premise for a longer story, and while everything that happens afterward is interesting, it leaves the reader unsated, probably a bit confused, and curious as to what was happening when the words ran out.

Just my $0.02.


( Posted by: Beckett Grey [Member] On: May 20, 2002 )

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