I can see them in the sky at night, congregating near the tips of the mountains. Their sleek heads and many smoke tales. If there where only a few, I might think they were antique engines, the kinds that now ruined cities before the floods and plagues.
I can’t speak, or write, about them, hell I can’t even think about them. No one I know can. But we all see them. Congregating at dusk. Sporadically throughout the night. Sometimes during the day. Sometimes in times we can’t describe. Sometimes in times we can’t remember.
But they’re there. We all know they’re there.
We see the notes they make us leave behind. We see the holes and the mourning. We see them.
But we can’t name them. We call them many things. Shadows, nightmares, spirits, demons, nuckelavee, Legion, fear, regret, insanity, insomnia, flash backs, epidemics, regimes, reins, the invisible hand, nature, progress, sin, cowardice. None of those are it. We can’t speak those things in hushed euphemism.
What happened to Author? He didn’t…?
Yeah… the demons… they- they got to him.
No one can remember not seeing them. Some can remember being told to not discuss, remember places with pills, remember places where their existence didn’t make sense, places where people would cover them up, places where the names we us were made.
They always look the same. How we describe them doesn’t matter. Weather its a bird or an orb or a person or something else, whether it has tails, or just smoke, whether it has form or is just a point of light, whether it’s cold or hot or fast or slow, whether it can be seen at all, we always know when we see one, like I do now.
I hope you do better.
My best, and final, regards to the rest of you lingering around the village.
End of message. Transcript of note found with Witch 7300-2. Witch 7300-2 testifies it to be of deceased witch. Other evidence suggests this to be true. This which has been classified as Witch 0C-0953.
I rummaged through my damp belongings. Everything this side of the mountain was damp this time year, roofs or not.
“What are you doing?” Angelica asked. I hadn’t known she was here. I hoped she wasn’t. But hope only goes so far.
“I wasn’t going to tell you so soon” I began “but I need to go”
“I’m sorry; its me, not you. I have to go. I can’t stay here”
“I can come with you.”
“No, you can’t. The village needs you. I have a chip in my head, and it’s only going to get worse”
“But the chip must be broken. We’ve been fine with you here”
“It could be recovered, or they might want us to think that.”
“You can’t run because they might know, not from us, from me, Rose, please!”
“Listen it’s not like that. I saw them, in my dream: dozens of the black statues picking up the charred skeletons you’ll leave behind. I should know that they would follow me and I’m sorry for leading you on like I did.”
“I thought you wanted a life here, a life with me?”
“I do, and maybe in some timeline we have a house on a land in once piece, but not here.”
We cried, and Angelica left.
I left too. I hardly even toke anything. I needed to move out before the rain moved in.
I was nearing the edge of the swamp. Soon I would be back to climbing. The rain began to pepper down on me; perhaps I would have to camp by the cliffs instead.
There was a strange smell around, even for the swamp.
I rounded the corner and found the source of it: a burning husk, like a huge insect, with green splintery guts. A boulder had fallen, striking it out of the sky. The mud and rain around it hissed and bubbled from the heat. It was fresh, perhaps only minutes old.
There was a buzzing farther ahead. I looked in horror at the small band of smoky black entities pulsating in the fog. I ducked behind a bush, but the flew over head. For a brief moment I felt relief, before realizing where they were headed.
I bolted back as fast as my legs could move, but the nightmares moved faster. I couldn’t get there in time on my own, I was too far.
I had hope though. In my pouch I had a salve. I covered my hands in it, and traced the pattern on my face. Soon I began to blink forward. Tree by tree I zipped. Lightning broke out, illuminating the sky. In moments I was back.
I was still late. The smokey nightmares burned the thatched homes, and tore apart metal ones. People ran, but few got far. Many were eviscerated, burned, or captured.
“Hey space junk!” I yelled “eat this!” I threw a rock, which bounced off its shiny shell. It turned to face me. A red glowing light leaped from its single eye, shining through the thickening rain.
Angelica shoved me out of the way.
“What are you doing!” She yelled.
“Saving you time, now go!”
The nightmare move closer, spindly, clicking, chitinous, arms pointing out like needles, slicing at Angelica. I jumped at the thing, grabbing the rim of the nightmare and setting it off balance.
Angelica pulled on me, pulling me off, but fully inverting the nightmare, crashing it into the rock mud..
“I’m not letting you leave again”
The crashed nightmare screeched an alarm. It’s now blue eye pumped out a siren’s chorus until fire bubbled out, melting its eye. The others turned to look at it. They opened their unnatural mouths and screamed with it.
Our ears pounded from the pressure of the noise. Three black statues surrounded us. I rubbed the last of the salve on Angelica’s face, and we ran for the nearest tree.
Angelica slipped into the tree. Another wave of thunder plowed overhead. I stumbled and slipped in behind behind her, but the nightmare’s pinciers stabbed and clasped on to me. It slashed through my flesh and locked around my femur. I was half way though the tree. I could see Angelica, safe in the woods. But my mortal body was woven into the tree.
Angelica yelled and slammed into the tree. My sap-like tears dripped down and tangled in her vibrant hair.
“It’s okay” I choked “You need to keep moving”
She didn’t have a choice. She ran as the nightmares came, burning me as they came.
end of psyco-chip® cache
ADDENDUM 3: RECOVERED DRONE FOOTAGE
In a post mission recovery effort, the local disk of Att-Probe 32A-AP37-34. The following transcript was made from the video footage recovered.
04:00 AP37-34 and six other drones departs from hanger 67B.
04:12 Mountain Range enters view. Unfavorable weather conditions. AP37-34 follows primary path to mission target.
04:34 Electrical storm proves to strong for primary path. All drones begin to retreat.
04:36 Sudden winds trap drones in the storm. Landing procedures commence. Interrupted when an unidentified flying object in clouds attempts an attack on several drones. Dispatched two pulses from incendiary ray.
04:37 Drones land successfully.
04:53 Video feed glitches several times consistent with write errors. AP37-34 may have suffered minor damage from storm.
05:57 Opening in cloud appears. AP37-34 and other drones ascend above the storm.
06:01 Secondary mission path established around far side of peak.
06:48 District C cliff range reached. Drones approach low altitude due to weather conditions. Thunder is heard several times.
07:31 Minor avalanche occurs. On of the other drones, presumed AP37-33, is impacted by a boulder approximately 3 feet in diameter.
07:35 Visual on mission location. Weather is unfavorable, but mission leader elects to continue.
07:36 Attack on the targets begin. AP37-34 fired its incendiary ray on a thatch hut. Three human’s inside attempted to escape, but were caught in the ray. AP37-34 is approached by three male humans with heavy junk-made clubs. AP37-34 was impacted by one of the clubs and had its incendiary ray seemingly disabled. AP37-34 preceded to successfully best the attackers engage in melee.
07:38 A female human, presumed to be from the above psyco-chip, henceforth Witch 4307, approaches at rapid pace. Yells (inaudible) and throws stone at AP37-38. AP37-38 responds with incendiary ray.
Another female human later identified as Witch 4488 shoves 4307 out of the way of the blast. 4488 yells at 4307 “What are you doing?”
4307 responds “Saving you time, now go” AP37-38 moved to melee, attempting to subdue 4488. 4307 jumps onto AP37-38. 4488 helps 4307 knock AP37-38 over. The impact damages AP37-38, and it’s alarm is activated it.
07:39 Both individuals run towards nearby tree, touching it before being obscured by a video error.
07:40 4488 is found 60 feet south. AP37-34 pursues. 4307 is embedded in a tree. 4488 kneels next to them in significant distress. AP37-34 and others engage incendiary rays. 4488 flees. Their exact path is obscured by video error.
07:41 AP37-34 continues to pursue 4488. Bright light directed at AP37-34 obscures them.
07:41 A prolonged video error occurs. 4488 and 4307 appear to be on top of AP37-34.
07:42 after several blows on the outer hull of AP37-34, its stabilization system appears to fail. AP37-34 crashes. 4488 walks away, surrounded by a bright light.
AP37-34’s video remained on for several hours after wards, until cutting out likely do to environmental damage, likely due to water damage. Nothing eventful appears to have happened during this time.
ADDENDUM 4: WARNING FROM DRONE PILOT COMMANDER
The involved mission was overall a success in terms of its designated objectives. The poacher encampment was eliminated, and the vast majority of its inhabitants subdued. Witch 4488 was discovered to be among the few successful escapees, and likely remains . I have included proposal for the creation of a additional team to locate it specifically. Her accomplice, Witch 4307 has been eliminated. Later visuals of her are identification by rookie pilot Erin Wikerknel. A single escaped Witch is a statistic that can be reduced, not a folly on part of our team.
– Lieutenant Gregory Vindrical
end of message