Blake stands before the door. “This is it, kids.” He grips the knob and wrenches, throwing the door wide. All three of them stare.
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The room is crawling with bugs.
They cover nearly every surface in the living room, scampering over floor and ceiling equally. They coat the walls, the chairs, the lamp…strange, ethereal vermin made of ectoplasm and nightmare. They range in size from normal bug-size to that of a small collie dog. The stench is abominable.
Blake takes a moment to look back at his assistants. Sarah has paled noticeably, but lost none of her stony composure. Alex looks as though he might vomit at any given moment. “Be strong,” advises Blake. He turns away and begins to wade into the room, his legs slipping through ersatz bugs like drumsticks drawn through a vat of lard. The bugs themselves take no notice, slogging equably through the muck of their companions. Sarah starts after him, screwing herself up to pass through the sticky river. She makes it about halfway before one of the ceiling-walkers loses its grip and falls into the hollow of her shoulder. Reflexively, she slaps at it, spewing goo in three directions. She removes her hand, and long strings of gore cling to it, pulling like pizza cheese. This is too much for her, and she vomits down onto the bugs, unable to help herself. Horribly, grotesquely, they seem to be attracted to the vomit, and a phalanx of creepy-crawlies breaks from the throng to lunch upon the stuff. She vomits again, but her stomach is empty, and she can only dry-retch, clutching her gut in agony.
From the other end of the room, Blake hears the sound of retching and knows that Sarah has lost her composure. A moment later, the sound of Alex vomiting –a fact which Sarah, busy reliving her dinner in reverse, thankfully misses- filters back to him. He reaches into his backpack and paws through the contents, finally coming up with a bottle of Vicks Vaporub. “Sarah!” he yells, his voice filled with command. Sarah, still clutching her midsection, manages to look up. He lobs the bottle underhand to her, thinking to himself –if she misses and it falls into the creepy-crawlies, so long Vicks- and has the pleasure of seeing her catch it. She opens the bottle and dabs liberal fingerfulls of Vaporub under each nostril. She begins to yell at Parish, and he turns back to the task at hand.
Here, on the far side of the room, is the center of activity. The bugs are at their thickest here, so thick in fact that many are being crushed to death by the sheer weight of their fellows. He steels himself, swallows hard, and rams his hand into the mire. Down, down, down he pushes, breaking through deeper and deeper layers of critter, until finally he reaches a strata of pure muck. Beyond that he feels something round, something definite. He grips it as tight as he can manage, and slowly withdraws his arm. The object comes out with an audible –ploop- and he finds himself holding the head of Charles Greene, minus both eyes and a liberal amount of skin.
Immediately, the focus of the insects changes, and they begin to engulf him, swarming en masse toward the head so recently extracted from within their depths. Blake lobs the grotesque trophy as hard as he can. It bounces off the wall, and dissapears into the bugs once again. He begins wading back the way he came. He reaches Sarah, and motions her back. She follows without complaint.
The bugs are slowly making inroads into the hallway. Blake puts a stop to it by slamming the apartment door with a resounding –squelch-.
“Are both of you alright?” Blake looks concernedly at his two assistants.
“Blake?” says Sarah, quieltly.
“If you do not drive me to somewhere where I can have a shower, I will be forced to kill you and steal your car.”
Alex looks up. There are circles under his eyes where before there were no circles, but he is smiling all the same. “That goes for me too.”
Blake nods, the ghost of a grin playing across his features. “It’s a deal.”
When they pull back into Blake’s parking spot, the first signs of dawn are already beginning to color the horizon. Sarah yawns, covering her mouth with the back of her hand. “You’re a rotten, manipulating scoundrel, Blake. You know that?”
Blake nods. “Sure, but I’m a rotten, manipulating scoundrel with a shower.”
Sarah moans in mock pleasure. “That’s why I keep your company, dear.”
They exit the Civic and plod up to Blake’s front door. Blake himself feels dog-tired, and he can see that both Sarah and Alex are operating under the numb fingers of shock. He feels a pang of self-hatred for taking them along with him, subjecting them to the horrors inside the former apartment of Charles Greene, but cuts it short. He has no time for introspection.
He pulls the keys from his pocket and unlocks his front door. He opens the front door. From behind him, Sarah lets loose a short, sharp scream. Alex moans miserably. Blake simply stares, processing the scene before him. This is it, he thinks, this is where things fall apart. I fucking HATE demons…
"Quit this world, quit the next world, quit quitting!" -Sufi proverb.