The next morning he woke up bleary-eyed, every sensation in his body more acute than the day before. He lay in bed for a long time and stared at the ceiling. He felt as though he were losing his mind. The burning sensation in his foot was the worst of it. It hurt every bit as much as the night before.
At last he forced himself to get up and try to function. He managed to get into the shower and when he emerged he felt a bit better. He made himself a light breakfast and tried to read the paper. Concentration was almost impossible.
He looked out at his garden and then at the sky. Clouds were gathering. He closed the curtains. More sensations were the last thing he needed. He wandered around the house but had to sit down as the pain got to be too much for him. He felt as though the walls were closing in on him.
His mind kept going back to the dream and to the newspaper article about the two missing persons. Andrew knew and yet he hadn’t said anything until asked a direct question. Was there more to the story? He wanted to know.
He went back to the dining table and looked through the paper again. The usual stuff for the most part. He turned to the last page of the news section and saw it. An article he hadn’t seen for lack of concentration.
It was a follow up to the last article. Neighbours had been interviewed further and several had mentioned the same thing though they hadn’t spoken to each other. They claimed to have seen a UFO just before the now missing persons had begun acting strange. It had been mentioned before, and several calls about an object in the sky were in the police blotter in the days leading up to the reports of odd behaviour but it was nothing unusual and no link to the missing persons could be established.
Ethan put down the paper. A UFO. Great, people thought that might have something to do with two people in town acting strange and then disappearing. Still, there was as yet no explanation for the sensations in his body. If they could find these people it might shed some light on his situation. Then again, that’s what he was hoping the CAT scan might do.
He jumped as the phone rang. He didn’t have his earplugs in and the sensation set his head to thumping. He grabbed the phone.
“Hello, is this Ethan Atkinson?”
“I’m calling from Hillside Hospital. Your physician has referred you for a scan. We can fit you in next Thursday if that would suit.”
“Oh, great. Yes, when is my appointment?”
The nurse gave him the details and he hung up the phone satisfied that something was being done. He was feeling relieved when a searing pain knocked him sideways. He grabbed at his right ear and screamed in agony. He had never felt such horrible pain in his life. His body went rigid and all at once he recalled the nightmare. This was it in waking form.
Tears were streaming from his eyes but he was able to see a large black beetle crawling down the length of his arm and onto the table. The paralysis gave way bit by bit and as he pulled himself together the thing before him began to metamorphose. As he sat speechless, his eyes growing wider in horror it grew at a rapid rate until it was almost the size of a human.
He could only cringe as the thing before him stared at him with it’s bulbous black eyes which reflected his countenance and increased his revulsion. Its body was covered in large scales fringed with coarse hair. Its mouth was a crude set of mandibles not unlike the claws of a lobster.
He willed himself to run but he was pinned to his chair. The creature’s head tilted to one side and he could hear a high voice in his head.
“You have had a demonstration of my power.”
All of the sensations that had plagued him rose in intensity all at once to the point that he felt he was going to pass out. Just as he thought he couldn’t bear it any longer all of the sensations stopped at once. The relief he felt was palpable.
“I will spare you this pain on the condition that you do my will without question. From this time forward you will be in my control. If you do not agree to this I will make it all start again at levels you cannot even begin to imagine. Do you understand me?”
Ethan gave a dull nod and said nothing.
“It is well then. We are leaving this place now.”
The room filled with an intense light that would have blinded him if he hadn’t closed his eyes. As his consciousness faded he felt a lightness of being and then felt no more.