Looking at the glass case with it’s three heavy locks, Bryan wondered what was so special about the knife sitting on the crushed velvet pillow. True, it had what looked like an ivory handle, but the blue-tinted steel had a dull edge. It’d obviously seen quite a bit of use if the nicks in the blade were any way to judge, and the worn handle bore grooves from being gripped for several decades in various battlefield situations.
The only real interesting point about the item was the large emerald set in the hilt, resting on the ridge that led to the blunt side of the blade.
“Bryan, just smash and grab! We don’t need to be looking at this crap here!” Ron called out, dumping a drawer full of jewelry into his sack, tossing the wooden bin to the ground where it broke apart from the smooth tile. “The boss wants everything we can nab in this wing, so hurry up!”
The Paranormal and Anomalous wing of the quiet Chicago university’s museum had been armed with two security guards, both of whom were unconscious thanks to specially prepared canisters of an air-borne chloroform gas.
The thieves, five in number, all wore gas masks, gloves, and dark clothing. They knew they’d tripped the silent alarm, and were spending no more than three minutes grabbing what they could. Their employer, whoever he was, said he’d pay one thousand dollars per piece lifted, cash. Considering Bryan’s bag alone easily held over forty small pieces of fine jewelry and jars of strange substances, the haul was going to prove more than worth the risk.
Pulling his pistol from his holster, he smashed the glass of the case before reaching in and grabbing the knife, lifting it from its position. As soon as he did so, his vision swam, colors becoming more vibrant and full. The colors smeared into blurs left in the air, reminding him of his LSD trips back when he was a teenager. Looking around the museum, his eyes widened. Many of the cases contained larger items, things that the men had avoided as they just didn’t have the space to carry them. A case holding a suit of samurai armor seemed to sing with a low thrum of vibrating blue energy. Another case contained a porcelain mask of a smiling face, which seemed to twitch and shift in place as Bryan watched it.
He stumbled back when he saw a figure composed of black smoke standing behind Ron, who was stuffing a red disc into his bag. The creature was tall, arms ending in two scissoring fingers that looked as brittle as dry twigs. The face, a visage of an angry man melting to that of a skull, floated above the torso of the entity without the aid of a neck. It turned and stared at Bryan, a sinister smile spreading over its face.
Bryan felt his mind drifting to a place of calm respite, where he could casually watch as his body began to move of its own accord. Bryan was surprised when he, knife firmly grasped in his right hand, swung it into Ron’s side. The blade, despite being dulled by age, slid in between Ron’s ribs with a wet noise, blood dribbling out of the wound before gushing as the knife was removed.
Ron stumbled to the side, looking at Bryan with a mixture of confusion and anger. His hand went to his side to hold his wound while his other hand pulled his pistol. Bryan cried out happily as his body lunged forward, stabbing the blade into Ron’s chest. Each time the blade sank into Ron’s body, he felt a surge of euphoric joy. He peered through his eyes as if they were windows, waiting to see what would happen next.
The strange entity lowered one of its long fingers to the floor, where it began to suck blood from the pool slowly forming. The creature shuddered, and several words in a language Bryan didn’t recognize began to slather themselves onto the wall, blood dripping down from the markings. Bryan walked past the wraith, his body seeking something that Bryan couldn’t discern. Turning the corner to go into the Creature exhibits, he found Tom stuffing several small stuffed hard-shelled creatures into his sack, his back turned to him.
Walking briskly up to Tom, he clapped a hand on his shoulder just as he rammed the blade into the side of his head, the blue-tinted steel separating bone instantly. Gray and red leaked from the wound, Tom falling forward onto the stand where the stuffed creatures sat. Bryan, reveling in the pure pleasure of the kill, leaned over the body and began drawing a long cut just below Tom’s belly button.
Over the next ten seconds, he pulled out Tom’s entrails and looped them around the young man’s hands, tying them together with pink viscera. A sudden cry followed by an intense pressure cause Bryan to wonder what had happened. His body turned to reveal Brandon, his sack of goods sitting at his feet, his pistol drawn and held tightly between his hands.
“Dude, what the fuck?” Brandon cried out as Bryan’s body charged at him. He squeezed out two more shots, each one impacting Bryan with little effect other than an intense pressure pushing into his hazy cloud of colors and pleasure. Brandon screamed as Bryan slashed off one of his hands, delivering a nasty punch to the man’s throat with a fluid motion leaving his soon-to-be victim coughing. Bryan raised the knife high, before freezing in place. His body slowly relaxed as the pleasure ebbed.
Brandon was choking, a wispy black arm sticking through his chest, leaving no wound behind. The claws seemed to have something radiant trapped in their prongs, a light which seemed to be peeling out of Brandon slowly. The entity stepped through Brandon, dragging the light out before pulling it into himself. Brandon collapsed in a heap of sluggish limbs, while the radiant light pulsed and struggled within the entities grasp. The shadows forming the creature, now stark when in the presence of the intense light, stretched out from the monster and slowly coiled around the radiant light. The shadows, now bulging with stray beams of luminescence leaking through it’s body, grew dark and smoky once more, though the head seemed to be smiling even wider, if such a thing were possible.
Bryan didn’t pause to wonder as he heard several men shout out. His head raised, peering down six flashlights aimed at him and the shadow creature, several guns cocking as the police squared off.
“Put down the knife and step away from the body,” one of the officers shouted.
The entity acted before the man could even finish his sentence, lashing out with his arms to reach across the twenty-foot span, spindly fingers grabbing the shadows of two of the officers. They cried out in alarm when their shadows expanded and began creeping up their bodies as if they were sinking in an ink pot. The four officers all opened fire on the strange entity, to no effect, as their two comrades became fully swathed in shadow. Their bodies began to sink into their own shadows, slowly becoming nothing more than vapor as they disappeared. Bryan took special note that the entity seemed to swell in size after this occurred, his arm now boasting four spidery fingers.
Bryan could only look at the entity so long before his body charged at the four remaining police, who changed their aim to him, unloading several rounds into his body. Bryan noted that he felt no pain, only the familiar pressure with each impact. His vision swam in a prismatic array that left him giggling. Waves of pleasure rolled over him, causing him to lose track of time. Slowly, he came down from the high and realized that the officers were laying around him, dead from multiple stab wounds. His body was busy sawing the head off of one with the knife, which was no longer chipped or dull.
In fact, it looked cleaner than when he picked it up, he idly noted. He could feel his body slowing down… it occurred to him that perhaps the multiple shots fired into him had done more damage than he felt. Taking a knee, he watched as the entity moved up behind him, dipping its fingers in the pooled blood as it began writing on the walls once again.
Bryan felt his body slow down, as well as a feeling as if he was standing over an abyss with only a thin railing keeping him from toppling over. Head swimming from the vertigo, he frowned as he watched his hand bring up the knife and invert it, holding it with the point aimed at himself.
No! He thought, for the first time fighting the miasma of pleasure suffusing his being. He felt his hands shaking as he fought against the knife’s influence over him.
The abyss suddenly grew wider, as if it were a yawning mouth, and he felt himself pulled into it with a startling speed. Losing all sense of space and time, he found himself in an endless expanse of green, the land dotted by figures wandering listlessly. He recognized Tom and Ron, both of whom were sporting horrible injuries he knew he’d inflicted.
Tom turned towards him, glossy eyes gazing at him with the curiosity of a child. “Bryan?” He asked, as if he had trouble recalling the name.
“Yeah Tom, it’s me… where are we?” Bryan asked, walking closer to Tom.
Tom looked around, up at an endless void of green and down at the vast, seemingly immaterial expanse of green below them. “I don’t know… how did I get here?”
“I… I think I killed you?” Bryan said, suddenly doubting his own recollection.
Tom looked perplexed, turning to wander away from the stranger who was asking pointless questions. Bryan felt a sudden flare of pain in his gut, one that felt as if lightning had struck him with an utter chill that throbbed from the wound. Looking down, he saw that his green-tinted clothing was cut. He probed a finger into the cut, bringing out a sticky dribbling of green slime.
“Odd… what is this?” Bryan asked, studying his finger. He slowly began to walk, hoping it would clear his head and give him some insight into… whatever it was he was trying to remember. He had a question about something, but it was lost like a flower petal on a raging river.
Bryan shuffled onward, descending an invisible slope, thoughts fragmented and broken. He didn’t even have the wherewithal to wonder why he couldn’t remember things. All he knew was an endless green tide and horizon.