Fiction

Possession by the Numbers.

Dark.

No light.

Not a photon.

He could see nothing there.

But he could hear, and he could smell.

The stench of something dead, or maybe just dying slowly. Rotting, decaying; Death.

Traps laid out for him in sequence. He knew the sequence, but couldn’t remember the name. Add the two previous numbers.

He knew the designer had not thought that anyone would decipher the codes so quickly, and he knew that he was going to pay for his sin dearly. The thing before him was remittance.

The last trap had found him scurrying quickly away from several large, sharp blades spinning around at ankle level, into a small door in the back of an old, abandoned Catholic church. A flight of stairs greeted him, spiraling down a tight space that made his insides tingle. The first step took sheer will power.

The first sound that had flown up the musty air in the old stair well hit him like a sonic boom. Like some screaming banshee (he’d once heard a screech owl and it sounded similar), the sound wanted inside his mind. It was at once vengeful, raging, yet alone and terrified, like something that had been once abandoned and had become madness. The next sound was like twin babies crying out in unison, in pain, an unnatural wail that made his heart hurt. The third like three giant birds.

Five blasts of a massive pipe organ he feared would burst his ear drums. The sounds stopped and the odor had begun. It wasn’t precisely that of a dead body so much as his mind told him, without any data to draw from at all, that the smell was that of Death. The door had then slammed behind him, now many steps away from him. All of the light in the stairwell was sucked away in an instant. He had pulled out his phone, tying to remember where the damn button was to activate the interface, found it, turned it on, The light from the flash on the camera, kept on by the software, lit the narrow stairwell with harsh light, casting shadows from every stone in the wall. The smell was horrendous, but compared to the noise, he preferred it to the impossible sounds.

Further down the stairwell, symbols were overlaid onto the stones. He’d seen them all in different movies, Japanese animated films, even some books he’d bothered to read; not one could he name. But the thing he knew, without needing any translation, was that they were not welcoming notes from a friendly Thing. The symbols were old, getting more primitive as he descended the stairs. His gut sank deeper into him, screaming at him to turn around, run back up the stairs, and get the hell out of there fast.

When he’d finally reached the base of the stairwell, he found himself inside a massive cave. He trained his phone around him, seeing only dust, and nearly screamed when he saw a group of things, some kind of monsters, in a circle. He stopped himself and realized they were bronze man-bulls, six in a circle.

He wasn’t certain why a Bible verse popped into his head, considering he hadn’t been to church in so many years:

Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round.

To his left then there was the Thing.

The feeling was like razors.

It was power.

Evil.

Flee.

He wanted to.

But nowhere he could go.

The Thing stood before him in the darkness.

He could feel that it wasn’t a singular Entity but more like Madness.

With all of the will he could muster, he made himself speak out.

He had to fight for the words spoken.

What or who are you?

We are many.

Are you…

Legion.

How many?

Thousands.

Great.

He ran.

No escape possible.

And yet he ran anyway.

The Thing behind him howled laughter that echoed.

It knew, like him, that he had nowhere that he could possibly run.

And then he stumbled on the fifth stair, fell, and knocked himself unconscious.

When he woke some hours later, he screamed at the darkness and began to rip his clothes. He ran full speed.

His mind burned, skin crawled; he wanted to be rid of the Thing but it would not let him go. He tore at his own skin, trying to rid himself of the damned Thing.

He made it to the top of the stairs with ease, no longer needing his eyes to see in the darkness. He opened the door and walked into the old church. He vomited everywhere, the stench of God lingered. Though even Legion knew the icons on the wall were false, they all spoke of Him.

He had to fight to make his way out of the old church. It reeked of redemption, of forgiveness; people bothering to care about and for one another. A place to exist in full.

Legion controlled him as though it took no effort whatsoever. So powerful was the Thing he did not dare deny it.

He walked out to the road and stood, waited at a bus stop.

He got on the bus.

Legion looked around.

Breathed in.

Smiled.

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