I can feel their eyes on me. Watching. I can’t tell my family, knowing they won’t believe me. I am alone in this fight. My sister probably thinks I have gone off the deep end and is calling everyone to tell them I’ve gone crazy again. I can’t bring myself to care at the moment. There are more important things to worry about. I hoist myself up into the abandoned building, hoping it will be my refuge for the night. My muscles strain as I pull myself in, and I feel the broken glass dig into my palm. I hope the blood does not lead them here. I tear a piece of fabric from my shirt to wrap it up in order to stop the bleeding before I take in my surroundings.
I find myself on a raised platform inside of an abandoned warehouse storage facility. There are old crates and chains lying around, covered in dust, undisturbed for years. A rickety staircase leads down from where I am settled. It would be best if I got away from the windows just in case they followed me. Each step down the rotted wood leaves me anxious. It would be terrible luck if I escaped the clutches of those monsters just to be done in by an old piece of wood snapping in half. After several agonizingly slow minutes, I find myself on solid ground once again. The sun’s dying rays remind me that the worst of the danger has yet to come. They get stronger at night. Maybe it is because the sky is as blue as them after the sun goes down.
I shuffle through my bag for my phone and a flashlight. I will need them soon. My hand has bled through the cloth but I can barely feel it. Adrenaline is my only friend in this dark hour. I glance at my phone screen and see I have several missed calls. Most of them are from my sister, Lydia, calling to check on me. I see one from The Boss and I call back immediately.
He picks up the phone almost immediately. “Travis, where are you?” he asks in a worried tone.
“Don’t worry about me. I’m safe. I got some messages warning me of what was coming.” I say as I walk around the room, setting up my temporary campsite as a hold the phone between my head and shoulder blade. All throughout the week, I had been seeing messages hidden in TV shows and in video games. At first, I ignored it, not realizing that they were for me. Eventually, the flashing red messages started showing my name. I could no longer ignore that something was coming; that they were coming. “So how are we going to take these things out?”
I hear nothing from the other end and I worry that maybe something is wrong. Maybe calling him was a mistake. “Travis, I think you need to come into my office.”
“No can do. If I leave they will get me for sure! There are a lot of them out there, just roaming the streets. I know they are after me. ”
“Travis, where are you right now?!” he asks again, more worried than before. It’s nice of the Boss to worry about me. He is such a busy man, running the entire service from behind the scenes as well as medicating those that aren’t able to see the monsters that stalk them from the shadows. I have spent many hours in his office on his old red couch, visiting as both a patient and as a soldier. I like to think of us as friends. It’s nice to know he cares.
I hear a crash from outside. They have found me. I can feel the dark mood overtake me as they approach. I suddenly do not want to move. I want to just give up. The shadowy figures presence brings a fog over my senses and drains me of my will to continue forward, but I will not let them win.
“Fuck! They’re here! I’m in an abandoned warehouse off of Fifty-Sixth. Send backup as soon as you can! In the meantime, I think I can hold them off,” I yell into the phone as I drop it to the ground. I pick up my bat and prepare myself. Here they come.
I can see their amorphous blue bodies slip through the cracks in the old building, a slurping sound accompanying their slimy figures as they force their way in. I tighten my grip on the bat and a shooting pain emanates from my hand. I just have to hold them off long enough for help to arrive; just long enough for the Boss to come and fix this. The blue sludge joins together to form several humanoid shapes but these things are not human, not really. They are a disease; A sickness that prays on the weak and downtrodden and feeds on their misery. They slither in and make life harder to live, make people want to give up. For some of their victims, they only stay for a little while, causing them misery from the shadows, but ultimately leaving them to live their lives. For some, they are always there, waiting. Making life unbearable. Then there are those like me that they toy with. They come and go, letting me think that things are better. I am a much better and brighter person whenever they leave, but they always come back, haunting me and making me want to die. That is why I started fighting them. I was told that it would be easier if I just took the pills and moved on with my life, but how can I do that when I know these things are out there, torturing people.
My life has been spent in a state of depression. I always blamed my fucked up brain, my family, and everyone else around me, when really, it was them. It was always them. The first time I saw one of these creatures I was twenty-two, getting ready to graduate college. I was going through one of the worst depressive episodes I had ever experienced, barely able to get out of bed and go to class. I knew it would all be over soon, that tiny bit of happiness I had carved out for myself would soon be gone. I knew that all of the friends I had made would slowly disappear and I would be alone, back in the hell hole of a town I grew up in working a job I really wasn’t sure I wanted. It felt like my life was ending. A large part of me wanted it to. One night, I was sitting in a parking lot in my old, beat up car. I was considering buying a gun just to take myself out, when I saw it. This blue squid-like figure was slinking through the shadows. So like any rational human being, I got out and followed it. I didn’t know at the time that I was walking into a war, but once I knew the truth, I knew that I had to help. I was one of the few that could see them, these things that destroy the hearts and minds of men. I was one of the few that could fight them.
At the time, I was terrified, so I made an appointment with a psychiatrist the next day and explained what I saw. I was immediately put on some strong medications and told that I was probably undergoing a psychological break and after what I saw, I believed them. So I started taking the pills and felt myself even out. The depression had finally subsided some and I did not see any more blue creatures in the shadows. I graduated and moved home, just as I was supposed to and went on with life. I felt dull some days and almost considered going off my meds several times. It felt like I was losing a part of myself and that I was less human whenever I was drugged up. One time, I did go off of them and within a week the blue things were back. I could see them everywhere now, following random people on the street, casting a shadow over their heads. I knew I needed to go back on my pills. I made an appointment with a more local psychiatrist, hoping that they would be able to get me the pills I needed faster than my usual doctor. I made the appointment and went in the following week. This was the moment that changed my life.