I force myself further into the corner of a musty, damp room. Paint peels like ancient scrolls on the mouldering walls that crumble and stick to my hands when I push against it. Planet Nine’s shadow gives the daylight a gloomy look, like an extreme solar eclipse. Dim light comes from the window to my left, one long-shattered pane lets in a cold wind and spots of rain.
Outside, leaves crunch and branches snap. I hear the terror sound of a crawler – like someone breathing through their mouth while waggling their tongue up and down – gets closer. Its shadow pauses at the window, and I see the silhouette of its nightmare tentacles, unfurling and curling like Medusa’s hair. The smell of sulphur comes to me on the breeze. A thick, dark blue tentacle, from what could be its shoulder, coils in through the broken pane, reaching down and checking beneath the window sill.
I hold my breath, as it probes around the window.
Despite their lack of anything resembling ears, they can zero in on the smallest sound.
I dare not move.
The tentacle caresses the wall, knocking paint free, moving one way, then the other, searching for prey.
A woman screams in the distance.
It’s all I can do not to flinch as the tentacle suddenly retracts from the window. The crawler moves away at speed, foliage rustling and cracking.
Another scream carries through the night. This time a boy.
I hope it’s not Elle and David, my companions these past three months. I make a silent prayer to… To who? There is no longer any god here.
The ground shakes. Somewhere distant a tree falls. I peer around the edge of the window into a valley, a valley akin to hell itself.
A goliath, a seventy foot triped, with feet like that of an elephant, and smooth, unbreakable skin, is on the move. Fires burn here and there as pyro-beasts jet combustible fluids onto harmful vegetation. Flames illuminate the goliath as it stomps slowly along the valley. A sea of quadruped gibberers spread out behind it, phosphorescent glows pulsing within what passed for their mouths. Incessant gibbering echoes in my head, and I feel my thoughts slipping away. I know I need to run, to hide, but I cannot find the will to do so. Trembling, my legs give way beneath me.
My face scrapes down the flaking paint and bumps off the skirting board as I slump to the floor. The sodden, rotted carpet smells of soil. It’s all I can think of as the screams fade, and the ground trembles.
A constant stream of madness fills my head; words I can’t make out, inhuman sounds I can’t comprehend.
There is movement in the next room, the sound of human footsteps coming closer.
My brain screams in terror, but I remain immobile, paralysed as a naked male approaches.
I look up from the carpet and scream when I see his face.
Instead of eyes, two lipless mouths chatter the same lunacy as the gibberers.
I catch four words that strike fear into my heart as its hands close around my face.
‘The Worldeater is here.’
This was submitted for the 2016 Pulp Idol Flash Fiction competition.