Estimated reading time — 10 minutes
Everything, all of this chaos and madness, all began with the Black Fog.
It was just an ordinary day when the news reported a strange phenomenon, a wispy black cloud of fog, steadily making its way toward the west coast of the country from over the ocean. Nobody really cared at first, as you’d expect. It wasn’t hurting anyone, except maybe the sailors and planes flying over the ocean, but life for everyone else continued as normal. Whenever the news would talk about what we now know as “The Black Fog”, people would nod, show mild interest, say something like “Oh yeah, that’s interesting,” and be done with it.
Until the Black Fog hit the west coast.
Cities on the seaside were the first to be hit and covered with the Black Fog. The news went crazy, every station frantically pointing their cameras at the Fog to capture footage of the unique event. Personally, it always looked like a thick cloud of smoke to me instead of a city covered in fog. The news said that nobody from the “outside world” could contact anybody in the Fog. A nation-wide panic was beginning, and it grew fast. People who had previously disregarded the Black Fog now looked for ways to leave the country as the news reported that the Black Fog was still heading east as though determined to devour the entire country.
With mass hysteria of this magnitude, it can safely be assumed that plenty of doomsday prophets came forward with “explanations” about the Fog’s origin. It quickly became obvious to me that these “prophets of the apocalypse” were nothing more than crazies who walked into the news stations from off the street. Nearly every scenario imaginable was told as a reason for the Black Fog’s existence: God’s wrath on humanity, the apocalypse, aliens seeking a safe place to land their spacecraft, the Black Fog was simple fog mixed with pollutants in the air, it was a publicity stunt for a new movie, it was the government using the Fog for some purpose, Cthulhu was rising… We heard everything, but none of the theories seemed to make sense.
There was a few more days of chaotic news reports, and then the Black Fog came to my town.
I was walking home that fateful afternoon, turning a streetcorner to see my 2-story home come into view down the street. Cars breezed past me at a steady pace. Coming toward me down the sidewalk was a mother pushing a baby stroller with an enthusiastic little boy running ahead of her, cheerfully telling his mommy to hurry up. The grass was bright green in the warm summer atmosphere, and there were only a few white clouds in the sky to distract from the wild blue yonder above. A red car, the sides splattered with a thick mud, raced past me. The bright yellow orb in the sky beamed down on the world, covering us in sunlight. If there’s anything I remember from that day, it was the colors.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, a dark giant stood up over the horizon and loomed over the city, blotting out the sun. Cars stopped in the middle of the road, leading other cars to crash into them. People began to scream. Some hysterical woman wailed, “It’s here!” as I looked up at the Black Fog blotting out the sky. It swept over the city quickly, shrouding me in a cave of blackness. I stumbled through the Fog, unable to even see my own two hands in front of me. The world around me looked as though it were covered in smoke, but I could breathe in it normally. I heard people screaming, the sound frightfully clear. There was the screeching of tires as cars stopped and the crunching of metal as other cars crashed into each other.
In my mind, I could picture the street as it had been before the Fog hit. My house was a few yards down across the street. If I could find my way inside, I could wait the Fog out and see if it would disappear and leave the city.
I began walking toward my house uneasily, still hearing people cry out for help. It was as though I had become blind. I took my steps with care, and tripped over a blunt object when I was halfway across the street. I climbed to my feet with my sense of direction disoriented. How close to my house was I? I just gave it my best guess and made my way forward. I had to walk around a parked car and, after tripping over the curb and falling onto the sidewalk on the other side of the road, my shoes felt grass beneath them. I wasn’t entirely sure if it was my yard.
I worked my way to the front door of the house, and sighed in relief when I realized it was mine. I hurried inside, quickly closing the door behind me. The Fog hadn’t gotten in my house, which I was thankful for. Only a little of it got in when I opened the door, but I could still see. The windows displayed nothing but black. It was as though I was standing in my house at night. A starless, moonless night.
I sat down, took a few deep breaths to calm myself, turned on the TV, and began to watch the news. If anything was being done about the Black Fog, surely they would have reported it. The news anchors were calm, but to my dismay, they had nothing to report. They said the Black Fog was “perfectly natural” and “explainable”. They said that the entire nation was being covered at an unbelievably quick rate, and the President had been evacuated for his own safety.
I changed the channel right there, cutting off a blonde newswoman mid-sentence.
On the new channel, they weren’t calling the Fog “natural”. They weren’t talking about the President. They weren’t pretending this wasn’t a national emergency. Instead, they were panicking. People who looked like normal civilians ran around the station in a frenzy while the camera’s view rested on a guy sitting behind the newsdesk, sitting in the middle of all the chaos. He stammered as he spoke, trying to maintain order somehow.
“…there were no reports of, ah, rescues from any seaside city… nor did the Black Fog show any sign of receding…” the guy was saying. As I watched, he managed to stop one of the frightened civilians and asked him to say a few things for the camera.
“H-hi…m-my name is A-Adam,” Adam began, breathing heavily, “That shit out there is crazy, man, like… like it ain’t fog. It’s something else.”
Adam wiped off his sweaty forehead and cleared his throat, “We heard rumors that you can see in the Black Fog if you have a flashlight or fire… we sent a guy out into the Fog with one of those bigass flashlights… he hasn’t came back yet…”
I remained in my living room, in complete disbelief that this was happening. I barely registered anything the news said, not that it said much. The only thing they could talk about was the Black Fog, and because nobody knew anything about it, there wasn’t much to say.
I couldn’t tell if it was day or night outside, so I tried to sleep according to the clocks in my house. I slept on the hardwood floor in the living room, too weary and afraid to climb upstairs to my bedroom. When I woke up, I immediately turned the TV on again. Inside the news station, there were sleeping people mixed with people standing off-camera who were in rapid discussion about what to do. It was as though they had forgotten the camera was on.
I decided to wait and see if they were going to give any piece of news that was worthwhile, and went into the kitchen to fix myself something to eat. Fortunately, I had made a trip to the grocery store the day before it all started. Despite this, my appetite still wavered when I looked at the food. The Black Fog didn’t feel real to me… almost like some kind of demented nightmare, but it still hurt to think about.
I returned to the living room without eating anything, and sat down on the couch and stared at the TV. After staring at the screen and listening to the people in the news station talk for an hour, I groaned. Survival was boring.
I turned my head to the living room window, and examined it from where I sat curiously. I think Adam had said something about being able to see in the Black Fog with…
I jumped off the couch and stumbled over to the hall closet. After shuffling through coats and other miscellaneous things, I found a flashlight. Clicking it on, I sighed in relief when a bright beam of light shot out, the first light I’d seen since it all started.
I pointed the flashlight toward the living room window, and froze when I saw a face outside.
There was a man standing outside the window with his thin nose barely touching the glass. His face was horrible, yet I couldn’t look away. The skin hung loosely on him, making him look like an old man. He had long silver hair on his head, a few strands of which were dangling limply over that face, but also huge bald patches. The worst part about the man was that he was smiling at me. He had a wide, toothy grin, but his eyes had black irises and white pupils. Near the bottom of the window, I could see that he was wearing a torn-up white shirt, but his smile hypnotized me. His eyes burned into mine. There was no color to the man at all, even the thin cuts on the sides of his face were an inky black. He was nearly completely unmoving, only moving the slightest bit as he breathed. The light from the flashlight didn’t seem to affect him at all.
I moved closer to the window and rapped my fist on the glass, but the Colorless Man only stared.
I turned the flashlight off, and the man disappeared in the Fog. I turned the light back on, and he was visible again. Adam was right, it was possible to see in the Black Fog with a flashlight. I was intrigued by the Colorless Man, but also very frightened. How long had he been outside my window? A shiver ran down my back when I realized that he could have been watching me sleep.
I was unnerved by his endless staring and amused smile. As much as I wanted to watch the news in the living room, I instead found excuses to stay out. I found myself looking through the same pantry in my kitchen for almost half an hour. Soon after I found myself sitting alone in a chair in my room upstairs, quietly thinking about when the Fog would lift.
But I couldn’t stay out of the living room forever, and I eventually went back. The first thing I did was flash the light at the window to see if the Colorless Man was still there. He was, and didn’t seem to have moved at all since I had first realized he was there. Unsettled, I turned off the flashlight to conserve the batteries (but also so I wouldn’t have to look at him), made myself comfortable on the couch, and turned my attention to the news where Adam was talking.
“…things in the Black Fog are everywhere,” he was saying, “Because the Fog is probably covering the whole world by now. Stay vigilant, a miracle has to happen soon…”
It seemed that I wasn’t the only one who had detected the presence of the things in the Fog. Adam delivered reports of mutilated bodies found in the streets with their eyes in their mouths and their teeth in their eyesockets. More of the news station survivors chimed in behind him with more information, and told of strange thumps outside safe shelters where people were holed up, waiting for it to end. There was no denying it, something unnatural was in the Black Fog, maybe something beyond the Colorless Man outside my window.
I decided to sleep upstairs in my bedroom that night. I shined the flashlight at the window before trudging upstairs to see if the Colorless Man had left. He was still there; only his eyes had moved to follow me. Once I had gotten upstairs, I placed the flashlight under my pillow, kneeled next to my bed and did something that I hadn’t done for a long, long time.
That night, I dreamed that the light had returned to the world. Families walked down sidewalks, children shouted to each other as they played. The grass was a dark green and the sky burned blue. The wind was crisp, gently caressing my cheek as it passed by. I looked around in wonder, and then noticed somebody standing behind me. I whirled around to see the Colorless Man standing there with that same grin on his face, only this time there was no glass separating us.
I woke up sweating. The first thing I saw was my bedroom window. Out of curiosity, I took the flashlight from under my pillow and pointed it at the window, my thumb flicking the switch on.
I don’t know what I was expecting to be there… I was probably thinking that the Colorless Man would somehow be outside my 2nd-floor bedroom. Something was out there, but it wasn’t him.
This time it was a woman with pale skin and long black hair. She looked younger than the Colorless Man, probably in her 20’s, but she still had the same crooked grin, the same vacant eyes, and the same unsettling stare. She was also completely drained of color as well. I immediately fell off my bed and screamed as the Colorless Woman stared on. I crawled to my feet and slammed my bedroom door closed as I hurried out into the hallway.
As soon as it had shut, I noticed another window in the hallway. I flashed the light at it, and gasped when a fat Colorless Man came into the light, grinning as though laughing at a private joke. I didn’t know what to do. Total panic seized me, causing me to flee from the unseen eyes in the Black Fog.
I shined the flashlight at every window I came across. I found another Colorless Woman in the guest room window and a thin Colorless Man looking into the upstairs bathroom before I managed to reach the stairs. I practically flew down them, and dived into the kitchen where I ducked under the table and tried to catch my breath. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see the kitchen window. As much as I didn’t want to know if one of them was there, I still flashed the light at the window.
This one was the worst one yet. He resembled a wolf with a wide snout, shaggy black fur and pointed ears, and he stared at me with wide, hungry, pupilless white eyes. For a crazy moment, I thought it must have been a wolf skull or mask, but then a thick dog tongue slid out of his mouth and licked his chops as he continued to gaze at me.
There was a Colorless Person at every window in my house, I realized. I stumbled out of the kitchen to get away from the starving eyes of the Colorless Wolf, and found myself standing in the living room. I flicked the flashlight on, and pointed it at the window to see that the Colorless Man was still there, patiently waiting. As I stared, his grin widened and revealed fangs like razors in the back of his mouth. His eyes flashed red, the first color I’d seen since the Black Fog had arrived.
And then the flashlight died, leaving me alone in the dark.
As I stood there, blinking in the utter blackness that surrounded me and pressed in from all sides, something began tapping on the living room window. As if in response, the Colorless People began tapping on every window in the house. The sound was maddening, completely in unison and growing louder, more frequent as every second crept past.
And I’ve been listening to them ever since. All of them, just tapping on the windows. The sound never leaves, never stops, never pauses. Listening to that endless noise… I just know that it’s tearing my mental state in half. I don’t know how much longer I can take this.
I just heard a window break.
I hope to God it isn’t the Wolf.
Credit: Alex Sorrow