This is part three of a three-part series. Please visit The Shredder Monkey Series tag to see the previous installments!
Blog Entry: September 21st, 2014
I’m feeling a little better today. I slept until two in the afternoon yesterday, then stayed in my room and watched Breaking Bad on Netflix until I fell asleep again. So now it’s Sunday morning, and I’m looking at the world with a clear head. Which is a bit ironic. Because the dream I had on Friday night was anything but sanity-confirming.
I was in the maze again. You know the drill – warm air, blue sky, dry yellow grass as far as the eye can see. I could see the rusty sheet-metal shack, but it was far in the distance.
I was calm, and I was lucid. I knew I was dreaming. I had to take a psychology class at Citrus, and we talked about how some people are capable of controlling their own subconscious thoughts. This place, this maze, was all a construct of my own imagination.
Then something spindly and grey grasped my shoulder and spun me around.
I was face-to-face with the monster.
The thing balanced itself on the three warty balls attached to the spider-like appendages that extended from its midsection. Its cylindrical body extended lengthwise and tilted so the stress-ball blob was near the ground and the tentacles hung from its tail end like hair, dripping slime. Its three spherical eyes betrayed neither emotion nor intention.
“Greetings,” the thing said. “What are you called?”
Its voice was pleasant but mindless, reminiscent of the automated recording reads you back your account number when you call the bank. I then noticed that the monster had acquired a new accessory – what appeared to be a fuzzy grey scarf wrapped around the intersection of its pipe-shaped body and jelly-filled head (its neck?).
And then I realized the thing had spoken to me in English.
“What the… who are you? What do you want?”
“Do not be afraid,” the robot-voice chirped. “I am here to advise you. Forgive the curtness of my communication. My body cannot produce your language. The filter I am forced to adorn may be unfamiliar to your species.”
I guessed the “filter” was the fuzzy scarf.
“Um… okay,” I responded. “Um… what’s your name?”
It whistled something that sounded like “Fifi.”
“Okay… Fifi,” I said cautiously, “what’s your advice?”
“You are like myself. You have the ability to climb through planes.”
“There are an infinite number of them. Every time you make a decision, another is created in which you decided the opposite. Billions of planes, all stacked on top of each other.”
“Oh!” I got it. “Like alternate dimensions. String theory. I’ve heard that one.”
“You’ve climbed into another plane before. It was like your own, but not.”
“I don’t think…” I started to say, then realized Fifi was right. My dream. The one where I’d driven home drunk and killed some bicyclist and was supposedly in jail.
“You felt weak and ill after, am I correct?”
“Yes,” I murmured, my brain suddenly a wet rag. “I… I had a dream. I was throwing up after and almost had to go to the hospital. You mean I… I traveled to another dimension?”
“Yes. Climbing is difficult on the corporeal form. It is more difficult the farther you go from your own plane. The place you traveled to was barely several billion away. On my plane, capable climbers are trained since we are small things.”
“Your plane?” I asked. “You mean, you live in another dimension?”
“My plane is untold quadrillions away from yours. Tens of billions of years ago an asteroid ricocheted off a newborn star. My plane is the eventuality of that asteroid travelling north. Yours is the eventuality of it travelling south.”
“Your plane,” I repeated. “Is that… are we there now?”
“No. This is a space between the planes. It is a dangerous place. That is why I constructed this labyrinth.”
“Wait, this stupid invisible maze was you?” I cried. “So, you’ve been chasing me through it for weeks?”
“It was difficult to trap both of our corporeal forms at once. You continuously vanished.”
“No, you kept on disappearing,” I argued. “And why are you trying to keep me in here anyways?”
“Not keep you in. Keep him out.”
My anger dematerialized, replaced by ice-cold panic. I knew who “him” was. I glanced around nervously.
“He is not here,” Fifi droned pleasantly. “He is a dark thing, a creature who wishes only destruction. He comes from a plane far, far below all the others. In my world we call it ‘Shish-vojes,’ and it is where we say evil beings are trapped after their natural life ends.”
“He’s a demon,” I whispered, feeling my pulse quicken and my palms grow moist. “We call that place he comes from ‘Hell.’”
“This is one of the places he lurks,” Fifi continued. “He constructed the square box. He offers attractive sustenance to climbers who wander into this space, while their bodies are in a state of unconsciousness.”
“He…I was there once!” I stammered. “I dreamed I bought some cereal! He’s the monkey!”
“He takes many forms. You consumed his fruit. This allowed him to intertwine your consciousness with his, allowed him to find you and follow you. Which he has been doing.”
“Yeah!” I said excitedly. “I found a stuffed animal that looked just like him!”
“The object was a token. An assertion of ownership, to deter others of his kind. But he could not claim you as his prize yet, as he was not yet strong enough to take corporeal form on your plane. Instead, he took possession of a weak mind.”
“Mr. Gaffigan!” I should have been afraid, but I felt as though my brain were on fire. “He… he was a confused old man. The monkey possessed him. He wrote on his walls.”
“The symbols were not him. That was myself. I followed the trail he left, took control over the same feeble consciousness. I could not stay there for long, as my strength was limited and the body attached to the mind I occupied was expiring due to the pressure of housing him. I should have been aware you do not understand my symbolic language.”
“Why did you care?” I demanded of her (him?). I was immediately ashamed of the nastiness in my voice. But if Fifi was offended at all, she (he?) hid it well.
“We nearly met inside the square box, when we were both small things. My elders had told me to stay away from this place, and to never consume anything offered to me here, but I had become curious. I saw you and tried to deter you, but I could not retain my corporeal form.”
I remembered the footsteps I had heard that day, the slamming door. I could see all of the strange products sold in the sheet-metal snack shop, all in different languages, all unrecognizable. The demon-monkey wanted to cast a wide net, lure children from all dimensions by offering them sweet, tasty things featuring their writing, familiar to them. This was all madness, fantasy, a fever dream. But somehow, for the first time in weeks, my life made sense. I was scared. But knowing what I was up against made me feel a little bit more powerful.
“So,” I asked Fifi, “this demon monkey thing wants to kill me or eat my soul or something.”
“He wants your essence,” Fifi dictated emotionlessly. “And he is very powerful. Stronger than any climber. Eventually, he will break through and take physical form in your world.”
“He already has. I saw the thing. How do I stop him?”
I noticed the sky above me had paled. My surroundings were blending together into a pixilated haze, I could no longer determine the point where yellow became blue. I was looking directly at Fifi, but she (let’s go with ‘she’) was melting into a grayish blob, as though I were looking at her through a camera and fiddling with the focus. I was waking up. No fucking way.
“Fifi!” I cried desperately. “How do I stop it?”
The haze became a filmy cloud. I was no longer in the field, but falling down some foggy, sense-defying pipe, and Fifi’s outline had become the sort of static, color-less shape you see when you close your eyes.
“You must climb,” her answering-machine voice echoed.
And then I was staring at stucco and light was streaming in through the blinds and my alarm clock was wailing.
Last night, I didn’t dream.
I’m glad I decided to keep this blog. I’m sure I’d have gone crazy if I didn’t have some outlet to organize my thoughts. And now, if I can’t chase down Fifi again, I’ve got to learn how to exorcise the Demon Shredder Monkey all by myself.
Yeah, I’m aware of just how Harry Potter fan-fiction that last sentence sounded. Maybe I am actually going crazy. But given the choice between looking like a nut job and getting eaten by that purple thing, I’ll take crazy any day.
Blog Entry: September 23rd, 2014
I started wearing a crucifix around my neck yesterday. And there’s a bible at the bottom of the backpack I take to work. I’m not sure whether or not the Shredder Monkey is scared of religious iconography, but it’s worth a shot.
I saw him again.
We were waiting outside MacArthur Dialysis at around five, waiting for Diem Phan to finish clotting. I was in the ambulance alone; Cisneros had gone inside to use the restroom. The rig was idling, the radio was on and, for some reason, I felt eyes on me. I looked behind me, through the back window.
His purple, plush face was pressed against the window.
It was the closest I’d ever seen the thing, and I was made aware of little details I’d have rather remained ignorant to. His purple fur was not monochromatic, like that of the stuffed monkey I’d tossed in the attic. It was matted, dirty, caked with grime. His red nose was comparable to a dog’s snout; leathery, warted, dripping greenish mucus. And his fiery eyes were neither plastic beads nor emotionless spheres like Fifi’s. I could make out whitish rings, black pupils staring at me, alight with twisted mirth.
He was enjoying this.
I stared back, too terrified to scream. The bright red, fleshy nostrils flared, steaming up the window, obscuring my view. Then, words began to appear, letters backwards. The thing was writing something in the fogged window, like a kid on a cold morning.
NWODR EH GARD from his vantage point.
DRAG HER DOWN from mine.
Then I heard a snap; the door opening. I screamed. Cisneros yelped and stumbled, catching himself on the driver’s side door. He didn’t even bother asking me what’s wrong. He just gave me that same look I’m starting to seriously despise.
Blog Entry: September 24th, 2014
No monkey sightings today. I was on edge all day long, eyes darting like a crazy person, jumping at any unexpected sound. I know he’s messing with me. That’s why he left me that message on the fogged-up mirror.
Whatever. He’s playing games, I’m figuring out how to get rid of him for good.
Remember how I said my parents keep everything in the attic?
I went up there today after work. I dug through box after box. Baby clothes, Jose’s old soccer trophies, photo albums, sheet music from the two years I played the cello in middle school. My clay model of San Juan Capistrano Mission, what was left of Jose’s foam board poster depicting the process of photosynthesis. Third grade, second grade, first grade… and then I found what I was looking for.
In a forgotten manila folder at the bottom of a water-stained box labeled KIDS 1997, I found a cache of crayon drawings signed Ariana. My suspicions were justified. A small child, guided by her imagination, unfettered by logic or rationality, could have travelled to places her older self would be kept from.
One depicted a red house (ours is brown) and a family of six – Mama, Papi, Jose, Ari, Noemi, and Roberto. Once, years after I’d drawn the picture and forgotten about it, my mom told me she and my dad had considered having more children, then decided against it. There were a whole bunch of those – crayon Ariana playing with people I’d never met, in front of houses and schools and parks I’d never been. And some of the people were weird. They had eyes in the wrong place, or noses that were too big, or too many arms or legs or fingers.
The Shredder Monkey knows how to find me here. If I can climb out of this dimension, like I did when I was a little girl, he’ll lose my trail. And then… I’m not quite sure of the “and then” part yet. Maybe he’ll forget about me. Maybe he’ll get bored and retreat back to his sad little sheet-metal squatter’s nest, better luck with the next unfortunate dream-traveler. Maybe some being in whatever plane I’ll end up in can teach me how to fight back. Maybe.
I closed my eyes. I tried to think about nothing. Allowed myself to forget all my little daily worries, forget where I was, dissolve all of my thought processes, focus on the neon shapes dancing in the blackness, flickering and folding and combining and breaking apart and coming together again.
Then the blackness faded to grey and the neon dulled to primary colors and the shapes took definite form. I was sitting on something soft and the air around me was warm and pleasant. The grey lightened into dingy white, and details revealed themselves. A pink dollhouse, complete with little wooden figures. A bookshelf, plush dolls littering brown shag carpet. A pink Barbie mirror mounted on the wall, reflecting my tired face rimmed with frizzed hair. I was in a child’s bedroom.
I heard voices, coming from outside the open door. Nervous, I jumped to my feet. I hadn’t thought of how I would explain my presence in some random kids’ room. Two little blonde girls barged in – twins, from the looks of them. They stopped and stared at me, wide-eyed.
Then the pastels and dingy white walls started to blur, and the floor dematerialized under me, and everything started to spin. The last thing I registered before my cold, hard attic floor was a child’s voice.
“Mommy! Mommy! There’s a lady cop in my room!”
This is good. This is really good. I saw myself in the mirror. The kid saw me, all of me. My blue uniform does resemble a police officer’s. I climbed into an alternate dimension. Now all I’ve got to do is figure out how to stay there.
E-mail from: Michael Wyzeki, Editor-in-Chief, Scientific Fringe Magazine
To: Ian Koros
Thank you so much for this fascinating piece of work!
I hope you don’t mind that I took the liberty of doing a bit more research, trying to find out who this “Ariana Gomez” is and how her blog ended up attached to a spam e-mail.
As you know, there have been isolated incidents of “travelers” claiming to be from alternate dimensions, but most have been proven false. And, after my extended attempts to contact the young woman responsible for this blog, I was ready to declare your account the same.
I contacted Citrus College in Glendora, and they kindly allowed me to look over their enrollment records for the past 10 years. In that time period, twelve women with the name “Ariana Gomez” attended the school. Via social media, I was able to open a dialogue with all twelve. All denied any association with the blog. None had ever worked as an EMT.
Then, I searched for a young man with the surname “Cisneros.” This was more fruitful – I found the Facebook page belonging to a Benjamin Cisneros, aged twenty-three, employed as an EMT with a small ambulance company. He was cooperative, and even met with me once in Pasadena. He has spiked hair and a mustache.
Cisneros was able to corroborate much of her story. He does work with a dispatcher named “Mary” and a lanky teenager, “Charlie Green.” The name “Henry Gaffigan” was unfamiliar to him. However, he transports a patient with similar symptoms (though this man is still alive).
But he’d never known a girl named Ariana Gomez.
I let him look over a hard copy of the blog entries you sent me. He was visibly spooked. In his words:
“This is really creepy. I mean, I have no idea who this chick is. But reading that stuff, what she wrote, I almost feel like I remember some of it. Like déjà-vu. I imagine a face, hear a woman’s scream, but it’s impossible. None of it ever happened.”
Then, two days ago a friend of a friend’s sister found this posted on a Persian cat enthusiast discussion board. Since everyone who knows me knows I can’t resist an internet mystery, it ended up in my hands:
This is ariana Gomez ariana Gomez can you see this please? Please? The shredder monkey got me I tried to climb again same as before, but the colors behind my eyes formed his face and then he was right there in front of me His face split open and became a mouth and all that was there was a dark hole and I fell down the hole and when I woke up I was gone and no one could see me and I didn’t have a reflection and im not in any of the pictures in my house just my mom and dad and Jose and all my stuff is gone from the house I’m typing on a laptop I found now but the screen is all white and I have no idea if anyone can read this or where its going or if im even typing or how long this will last becase sometimes I cant touc thin
So, Ian, I’m inclined to come to one of two conclusions:
Conclusion #1: we’re both victims of an unsettling hoax. Or,
Conclusion #2: Ariana Gomez is real. Was real. She became the victim of a demon dressed like a giant purple monkey. The Shredder Monkey… deleted her. Made it so she never existed. Or maybe, the monkey ate her entire dimension, leaving her disembodied consciousness stranded in another dimension, one in which she was never born. Maybe our dimension. Either way, all that’s left of her is breadcrumbs – the message on the Persian cat discussion board, Cisneros’ deja-vu, and the blog.
Oh, and speaking of her blog, can you e-mail me the text again? The file somehow disappeared from both my hard drive and my inbox, and I think I misplaced the hard copies as well.
Credit To – NickyXX