18 Nov He Comes (Zalgo)
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"He Comes (Zalgo)"Written by Chris Phoenix
Estimated reading time — 10 minutes
Okay so as some of you may know, I took out a loan and opened my own auto shop a little over year ago. Business has been going decently well, I can’t complain, and I’ve always been grateful to all of my customers who would come to me exclusively when God knows there are so many already established places in town. I’ve been doing well enough that I was able to hire on my buddy Neil a few months ago, and he’s been working hard and helping out really well, as I always knew he would.
Well, I needed to take a day and go to a Lamaze class with Rebecca last month, and so I entrusted the shop to Neil for the morning and most of the afternoon. That’s the day I think everything actually started, because when I got back, he seemed to be in a stupor and was covered in oil. He’d even had some smeared across his face, as if he’d tried to drink it or something. I told him to go home and clean himself up because we had no clients at the moment and I could take care of anyone who came in for the time being.
He came back 45 minutes later but he was still much quieter than usual. He worked as well as he ever did, but something just seemed off about him. I asked him if anything happened while I was out and he just shook his head. I asked how many clients we had, and he just muttered something unintelligible. I asked him to repeat himself and he turned and glared at me and for the briefest moment I could’ve swore his eyes appeared to be completely black, no iris, no sclera, just utter all consuming blackness. I stumbled back and bumped a shelf, knocking things down. When I looked back at him, he was still looking at me, but he didn’t seem to be glaring hatefully the way he had before, he just seemed kind of…out of it.
“Just a couple,” he answered. “Some woman, and then a tattooed biker-type looking dude.” I assumed one of them must’ve asked for an oil change and that’s when he spilled it, so I asked if he had any trouble and he simply shrugged. I had looked around the garage while he was gone and I saw no traces of an oil spill, so whatever had happened he must’ve gotten it all on himself and none of it anywhere else, miraculously. But he seemed reluctant to talk about it, so I didn’t press the issue, and we worked on throughout the day. That day and the next were relatively normal other than him still being awkward and quiet. I asked him if he’d like to go out and get us lunch while I tended the shop and he said “sure.”
When he came back I was busy doing a diagnostic for a client, so he put the food on the counter in the office to wait for me and he went ahead and ate. I finished up with that customer, we’d have to keep her car over night to figure out just why it kept dying on her, so I asked Neil to give her a ride home and then I went to grab my food. He’d brought me some Chinese food and an iced tea, so I opened the soy sauce packets to pour some over my food when I noticed the strangest thing…
It was as if the soy sauce was a living thing somehow…spreading out like dozens of squirming inky black maggots when it fell into the fried rice and burying itself inside. I took the fork and started to scoop out the rice to look deeper inside and small smoky tendrils would rise from the rice occasionally and dissipate. I was incredibly hungry at that point but I was way too creeped out to eat that so I chucked it and the iced tea in the garbage and decided I’d just wait ‘til I got home that evening to eat something I’d prepared with my own hands. I’d never in my life seen anything remotely like that and I couldn’t even fathom how I would ask Neil if he’d noticed anything similar. As cold and distanced as he’d been lately I was sure he’d look at me like I was looney tunes, so I just shut up about it.
That Friday we went down to the ol’ watering hole as we always do to get some drinks and watch the local bands play, and Neil was just as quiet and distanced as he had been all week. He’s not a bad looking fellow, though, and so despite him not really going out of his way to speak to anyone, a woman went over to where he was sitting and started talking to him, and they ended up leaving together that night.
Monday morning I tried breaking the ice by asking how his weekend went, he gave me a nod and muttered “alright.” I asked him if he got lucky with that young woman I saw him with, and he gave me the smallest grin, which was quite possibly the first grin I’d seen on his face in a week, and said “it went well.” I didn’t pressure him for details, I knew he’d share if he chose to, and his small grin was enough to assuage my worries and lend me some hope that he might get back to his old self soon.
The day was relatively busy until about 3PM, so I finally had a spare moment to sit in the office and listen to the radio while I waited on the next client. So there I was, leaning back in my chair with my feet propped up on my desk when I swiveled around and looked at my bulletin board that sits behind my head with all manner of clippings stuck to it. I had a few sunday comic strips such as Garfield and Calvin & Hobbes that I’d read maybe a hundred times since I’d opened shop there…but that day something was different.
The first panel seemed normal, but in each subsequent panel, inky black tendrils crept out from the edges of the frame and from behind the characters. Blood dripped from the ears and eyes and sometimes even their noses, and in each of the strips one of the characters would say “HE COMES!”
I sat staring in astonishment for a moment before I realized the tendrils were moving ever so slowly, and then each of the characters’ heads turned ever-so-slowly towards me and I threw myself back away from the bulletin board, sliding over my desk and onto the floor. I ran out into the garage and yelled for Neil, I could not be the only one to see this! To my surprise, he had gone…and so I hesitantly walked back to the office and peered inside. The comics were still corrupted, but they no longer appeared to be moving. I crept over to it and reached out to pluck one of the comics free when I noticed the inky black tendrils starting to seep across the page towards where my fingers were at least three times as fast as they’d moved before and I jerked my hand away. Nothing good could possibly come from letting that blot of ink touch my skin.
Of course I ripped the entire bulletin board down, burned it in a tin trashcan out back, and never spoke of it again. That night I went home and my wife was already in bed, fast asleep. My mind was racing and I couldn’t even bring myself to eat dinner that night. With no one to vent my worries to, I fell into a restless sleep, and kept awaking to nightmare after nightmare seemingly every hour of the night until I just gave up on sleep entirely.
That Friday I went to the bar again, even though my wife couldn’t drink, being pregnant and all, and Neil wasn’t really any fun to hang with anymore, and none of my other friends could seem to be reached. I just needed to get a good buzz and I’d start feeling better, I reckoned. After downing a couple beers I excused myself to the restroom when I noticed I was more inebriated than I’d estimated, so I leaned over the sink to splash some water onto my face and that’s when I heard it. Like a sheet of fabric being dragged across a floor, a voice rasped ever so quietly out of the drain. It sounded like a prolonged exhale for the longest time until I finally recognized words hidden amongst all those vowels. “Heeee cooooomes!”
Cracks appeared in the porcelain, snaking out from the ring around the drain. At least, they looked like cracks at first…but after a few seconds I recognized them as the same tendrils of corruption I’d seen in the comics earlier that week…snaking their way slowly along. I stumbled backwards out of the bathroom door and right into someone’s chest. I turned around and stared up into the pitch black eyes of a six and a half foot biker with tattoos covering every piece of exposed skin besides his hands and head. I stumbled quickly away from him and his evil piercing gaze followed me as I retreated through the bar. It felt like a dream, where whenever you’re running for your life it feels like running through quicksand. As I walked across the room I noticed the biker wasn’t the only one staring at me. It seemed every pair of eyes in the place were focused on me, and more than half of those eyes appeared to be perfectly black, with no hint of iris or sclera. A few lips moved, and though I couldn’t hear their voices over the sound of the jukebox I could easily guess what they were saying. “He comes!”
I didn’t get a wink of sleep that night.
I haven’t been getting much sleep for the past couple of weeks as a matter of fact, which I’m guessing those of you who’ve spoken to me recently could’ve guessed. I keep seeing those pitch black eyes staring at me. I’m afraid every one I see will turn and whisper those words to me, staring deep into my soul with that evil glare. Every time I go near a sink or go to grab a bite to eat I’m afraid I’ll see those inky snaking tendrils squiggling towards me. Even my wife has seemed cold and distanced lately.
Then tonight as I’m driving home from work, struggling to keep my eyes open so that I don’t drift into oncoming traffic, my cell phone rang and it was Rebecca. She was on her way to the hospital to have our baby, and for the first time in two weeks I was actually happy!
She was in the labor room strapped to a monitor when I got there, watching for her contractions. She barely noticed when I walked in, but didn’t seem startled when I sat down beside her and took her hand in mine. I tried talking to her, but she was unresponsive, and I was so tired I didn’t even realize I had started to drift off to sleep until the nurses came in and started moving her to the delivery room about a half hour later. I put on my scrubs and a hair net and went in with her to hold her hand and coach her through like they’d trained us in Lamaze, when she started cursing and screaming.
I was prepared for that, as well as her ever tightening grip on my hand, but when I saw the movement in her tummy my mind started to reel. The doctor said the baby was crowning and told her to push. I echoed his orders and she screamed at me with a voice I couldn’t begin to describe. When I looked down at her she was staring up at me with those same eyes I’d seen on the biker. The same eyes I thought I’d seen on Neil weeks before. I tried to jerk my hand away but she maintained her grip. Black tar-like blood splashed the front of the doctor’s scrubs, but he seemed to pay no heed. When I looked at her tummy again, black veins seemed to stand out beneath her skin, pulsating. She continued to stare at me, and she was no longer screaming, just grinning…those obsidian eyes boring into me.
“To invoke the Nezperdian hivemind of Chaos,” she breathed in a raspy voice.
“He who waits behind the wall,” the doctor continued as he stared down at the child, my child, lying silently, cradled in his bloodstained hands. He looked up and raised the baby, and it appeared to be covered in oozing inky black liquid, much like that that had covered Neil a couple weeks prior. It did not cry out, but it was alive, and it moved when he held it up. When its eyes opened, they were as black as my wife’s. As black as the doctor’s. In unison, they all breathed his name.
I ripped my hand free of my wife’s iron grip and stumbled out of the room, barrelling into the nurses passing in the corridor just outside. When I stood up and looked back into the room, I could see the inky black tendrils seeming to extend from the doctor and my newborn, across the floor to where I stood. I turned and ran down the hall to the elevator and slammed my finger into the buttons. When I looked back, the tendrils had come into the hallway, yet no one else seemed to notice until it slithered over their feet and up their legs, at which point they abruptly stopped, turned and looked at me with those same obsidian eyes.
I abandoned my effort to call the elevator and broke into a panicked run for the stairs. I ran down the 15 flights of stairs all the way to the lobby, tore ass out into the parking lot, hopped in my car and started driving. I didn’t know where the fuck I was going, I just had to get the fuck away from there. I don’t know if I’m going crazy, it certainly seems like it, but I just can’t be around anyone I know anymore. They all have those same eyes and those same dead stares and even my child…oh god my baby.
I still saw those eyes staring at me from the cars beside me, and by some strange coincidence the same biker from the previous Friday night at the bar pulled up beside me an hour away from the hospital and followed me for nearly two miles. He’d turn and stare at me, grinning. I couldn’t see his eyes through his sunglasses this time but I knew it was the same guy. His tattoos seemed to move of their own free will, the flaming skull on his right bicep began bleeding from its eyesockets.
As soon as I could, I slammed on my brakes, allowing him to fly past me as I swerved to my left and did a U-turn. I think I lost him, that was about an hour ago. I’m at a motel 3 hours out of town, the first place I found that has wifi, and I’m tired, and I’m shaking, and my hand itches where my wife’s nails scratched me open. I honestly don’t know what to do, or who I can turn to. This story will sound insane and I’ll probably be institutionalized and I’m not sure that wouldn’t be the best thing for me but I just can’t bear to look into those eyes anymore. Every time I see someone new and they stare at me I start to panic because I know…I just know it’s out there looking for me, w̝̹̩͎͍̘h̪a͖̮͚̪͓t̩͍͎̣̱e̖̜v̪͈̹̥̟ͅe̤̖͙r̗̱̹ͅ ̲͕̳̟͓̰i͉̝̼̤̜̱t͕̼̤ ̝̱̮͕͔̤i̩̭̤̬s̩͇.̖͎̬̱
And even when I lay down and start to drift off to sleep, I̫̮̣̜͎ͭ̽ͪ̾̀́ͯͮ ͍̻̻̞̬̞̾̍̋ĥ̥̰̲̱͙̰̖̟̔ͧ̎ͤ͆͛̚e̦̪̭̙̎͌͐̅͌̄a̼͎͈̘̰̮̹͈͇ͣͪ̐͐ŕ̞̱̤ ̞̬̲̑t̖̠̠̗̱͊̾h̪͈̭̪͋ͨͥo̮̱̺̜͖̙̘͚͌ͧs͍͔̉̽ͥ͑͐͌e̯͍͎̗͕ͪ̈ͦ ͔̮͕͆́w͔̲͕͓̩̼̗͖ͦ̽̔ͅò̭͚̼̣̼̺̰̃̿ͭ͐̈́͋̆̇r̰̪̠͎̳͚̯͚̎̋̉d͚̦̭̟̯͚̹̘ͣ͌̄͂͊ͅs̟͍̗̹͕̫͎̈́̒͑ͨͫͨ͐̓̓.͕̠͍̪̙̹̣̘̿͋ͬ.̼̖̣ͥͮ̒ͬ̓́.̺͚͔̟͚̫̮̏̑͐ͯ”̗̦͍̗̝̠̼͉͔͍̺̱̠͉͇̟̳ͭ͆ͧ̌ͦͫ͂
Credit: Chris Phoenix