It was a pleasant, sunny day. The birds were singing. Children were playing.
The Jones family left their suburban home with suitcases. They were ready for the Trip.
“Lovely day, isn’t it?” said Pamela Jones to Mrs. Brown.
“Yes, it is, isn’t it?” Mrs. Brown replied. Her husband stood by her.
Their two boys were no longer there. They used to be active youngsters. But the doctor helped them.
Now both were pale, withdrawn, and small for their ages. Wherever they were today.
“Have you heard from Sarah?”
Sarah Armstrong and her two kids had been on the last bus out of the town with ten other families. They had known she wouldn’t last long and avoided her since she spread Conspiracy Theories.
She hadn’t written. No one did.
The authorities never said where they were being sent. Just that it was essential to go.
Aside from the Smiths and the Connors there were no families left in the suburban area. They were not ready yet, but they’d be leaving on the bus too. Then the area would be empty for whatever They wanted to do with it.
The first several busloads had been for the poor, the sickly, and the disabled. Starting with the mentally disabled and all with a psychiatric diagnosis. Many had not wanted to go and were very vocal about it.
Those in charge of the Relocations had assured those around them who weren’t being sent away to ignore them. They would receive excellent care by Experts. Care those around couldn’t or wouldn’t provide. They were annoying.
Pamela recalled how sad it made her to see their faces and hear their calls for help as they were loaded–some left of their own free wills–onto bus after bus. But the people were unpleasant. Things would be better with them relocated Somewhere Else.
Then the elderly were relocated. First the sickly and poor. The kind they assumed were headed for nursing homes. Though Pam had heard one of the drivers say, no. It was Somewhere Else.
A lot of the people were tired of looking after their aging grandparents and parents. So they let them get taken as well.
Next they took the kids nobody wanted. The foster kids, the disabled, those born into poverty, Next they started advertising for any kids whose parents no longer wanted them. Doctors, nurse practitioners, teachers, lots of social workers urging parents to consider giving their kids away. To be relocated and cared for. In that proper way that only Experts know.
The Brown’s sons had gone. Their mother had been persuaded to send them.
The lady who had loaded them on the bus had promised they would write. But they never sent so much as a postcard according to their mom. Which was odd, Pam thought, but Mrs. Brown never said so. Nor did her husband.
Finally not one but two vehicles arrived. Not buses. New vans. The other for the Connors and Smiths.
This was perfectly normal, Mrs. Jones assured herself. She took a breath and climbed in after her husbands.
There’s a great deal of talk now about collectivism versus individualism. The idea is the collectivist is unselfish while the individualist puts the needs of the group below his or her own. That is a false dilemma. There’s nothing intrinsically selfish about individualism nor noble about collectivism.
The whole Bible is full of passages about the responsibility of the individual. It is as individuals we are to be held accountable before the Lord. He will not hold us accountable for the sins of our fathers or grant us salvation because our ancestors were faithful to Him while we are not.
We are not to be rewarded nor punished simply because we fall into group X. Romans was written to the Jewish Christians telling them that belonging to that ethnic group cannot save you. Nor–as some of the bizarre alt right cults would have it–does a Jewish heritage prevent anyone from knowing the joys of salvation found in Christ Jesus.
A collectivist wishes to appear unselfish and noble in the eyes of the faceless collective. The individualist prioritizes the well being and happiness of individual people in her life. Say one yearns to be an Instagram celebrity and the other yearns to serve the people she comes in contact with as a SAHM or worker or friend. Individually.
A collectivist refuses to take any risks since the collective is large enough. Someone else can risk it. Or better yet, let the bureaucrats in charge take care of everything. And who would risk their own life for the good of some amorphous blob known as “Mankind”? Collectivists won’t go the extra mile–unless they’re sure the collective will see it and applaud them. The individualist will sacrifice greatly for individual friends–even laying down his life for the love of them.
Though not motivated by these, an individualist also enjoys praise and commendation. From a beloved spouse, a parent, a friend, or child. A collectivist prefers likes and shares from strangers on that misnamed thing called “social” media.
A collectivist is passionate about “Society” as an abstraction, even if they’re a misanthropic crank. The individualist values their spouse, child, coworker, friends from church, next-door neighbor, and won’t tell everybody.
Collectivists all value their own individual needs as one can see from their behaviors during this pandemic. They were very careful about protecting their own health (as they thought) by obeying everything the doctors told them to. They also were happy to continue getting paid from home or get government checks sent their way. I don’t condemn either taking care of your health or wanting sustenance, but I’m pointing out that “collectivism” is not intrinsically disinterested.
A collectivist wants all people to be alike and wishes to enforce conformity upon them. No measures are too extreme or brutal for dealing with those individuals unable to conform due to emotional or bodily weakness.
An individualist loves individuals and has no desire to quench the individuality of the people in his or her life. We like each other’s faces and long to draw close to one another. Love is risky but worth it.
The New Abnormal would have us alike but apart. Sterile, frozen and dead.
The True Normal (ordained by God) would have us different but together. As unique individuals in Christ’s body. All special and precious yet part of a group greater than ourselves.
My stories deal with individuals, but don’t espouse selfishness. They encourage individual responsibility and acts of moral courage and self sacrifice. In Anemia, Lizz takes on a powerful monster out of love for her individual sister. In Maxwell’s Rules, Curt starts out as a bureaucrat (the perfect subspecies of collectivists) who works tirelessly for the good of the school while hating the students. Since the story is one of redemption I don’t praise this behavior.
My hope is to use what I know to help my fellow Christians in the time that lies ahead. The internet is a wondrous invention. Like many it can be used for good as well as evil.
Like the television it can be used to deceive the masses. But unlike the TV it can be used for the communication to go both ways. This makes it hard for the bad guys running the world to control the narrative the way they like. Plus there are certain plans being made that can be seen from our enemies communicating with one another.
This device has helped humanity achieve 2 things. The possibility for Babel 2 and the potential to finally get the message to every tribe and nation. As a Christian the latter gives me hope.
Follow the link. World government already exists in everything but name. They’re discussing world currency too.
You notice all the talk about how great communism is now? And how horrible nationalism (loving and attending to your native land) is? What is the alternative to nationalism?
Globalism. According to the Bible the Lord has opposed globalism since the Tower of Babel.
We have a lot to repent of as Christians as far as the past year goes. Here are some Bible passages we have not taken seriously.
Genesis 2:18 And God said, It is not good that the man should be alone, I will make him an help meet for him.
Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works; not foresaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
2 Thessalonians 3:10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.
James 1:9 Let the brother of low degree rejoice that he is exalted.
James 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
But especially John 11:25-26 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
Now many are seriously considering spending the rest of their lives in semi isolation, loudly condemn those who obey the Lord in assembling (including professors–though many are ceasing to even profess,) look to Caesar for a “living wage,” venerate the sin of covetousness, and expect Caesar to feed the poor. While applauding measures to prevent their neighbor from working–thereby forcing him into poverty which Caesar can also attend to.
If people really believed in John 11:25-26 they wouldn’t act this way. But 75% have formally renounced the faith. I’m glad the Lord is pruning away the deadwood. One benefit to even mild persecution and unpopularity is no more country club churchianity. I predict more of us freaks and riff raff will become welcome since life on the fringe is our thing. And a lot of sincere people are turning to Christ now.
Sometimes God allows the armed troops to surround us to force us to look up to His fiery chariots in the sky.
That Dragon, foe to God and man,
Sat by the sea upon the sand.
The waters churned. Up came a beast.
My heart grew sick with agony.
Mystery of mysteries!
Hides the face you cannot see.
Rising up to crush us down.
Suit up Christians. Stand your ground.
The seven heads upon the Beast.
Each had its special blasphemy.
Ten horns of power. Each with its crown.
To wage a war and smash all down.
Mystery of mysteries!
Hides the face....etc.
Its mottled hide is treachery.
It lumbers bear-like from the sea.
Its lions roar freezes with fear.
The time is now. The monster's here.
It fills the world. Its mark is death.
It robs all life of joy and breath.
Devouring hope, it warps and kills.
The Beast destroys but cannot build.
The time is now. Submit to God.
He will defend you by His rod.
Or serve this strange, unholy Beast.
Forever howl in agony.
No human power can stop this thing.
This twisted, sick, abnormal king.
Yet stand up firm. The Lamb won't fail.
And by His blood we shall prevail.
Mystery of mysteries!
Hides the face you cannot see.
Rising up to crush us down.
Suit up Christians. Stand your ground.
Back in the spring of 2018 I was living in an efficiency in an unfamiliar city. I was struggling with a couple chronic conditions related to my autoimmune system.
I also was struggling to adjust to a life without addictive but prescribed drugs. This also rendered me susceptible.
Nights have always disturbed me due to the aloneness and dark. My nightlight and the cat by my pillow help even as an adult. Yet I must be careful what thoughts I have before bedtime or I cannot sleep.
My friend Vern is charismatic. He had been calling me to discuss odd happenings and sent a few pics of strange, ghostly images. These would fire my imagination.
I score unusually high in the psychological trait known as openness. I don’t consider myself credulous but refuse to dismiss stories simply because they are odd. Open to new ideas and concepts.
The imagination is not reality. But Freud was onto something when he proposed that dreams–especially the night versus the day variety–reflect our inner struggles.
This wasn’t a typical dream. I felt unusually nervous and had talked too long with Vern after watching a mildly disturbing cartoon on YT. I had been up too late and was too jittery to unwind and sleep.
It was kind of a waking dream in the gray place. Neither awake nor asleep. A good state for lucid dreaming, yet this was not that either.
I imagined I saw this humanoid creature. It kept coming through these outer corridors and passages. As though trying to reach me. It didn’t move like a human, being unusually nimble.
There were a lot of corridors to get through. I feared it would manifest in my room by the foot of my bed.
I would sit up to pray–night after night. For it haunted me for at least 3 and even afterward I feared having the vision/waking dream as I dozed off. Or tried to.
After several nights I thanked God for protecting me. That Thing had not been able to invade our physical universe.
What disturbed me the most about this Thing was when it looked at me I could see it had glowing white beady eyes–cold and alien. But nothing beneath.
The last time I envisioned it, the pearly eyes gazed at me. Menacing, yet cold and calculating. Like a cruel boy ripping the legs off a grasshopper, and too intent in watching it struggle helplessly to laugh. Not true sadism, so much as the joy or having a creature who can feel pain at his mercy which he refuses to show. Because they are weak.
“Wait.” The eyes seemed to say. “I’ll get there.”
It continued to climb around.
Eventually I moved back to the Pekin homestead.
It wasn’t until April of 2020 that I remembered that Faceless Demon. Climbing, walking, crawling its way into our world….
Been in shock the past few days. Must have lost my mind.
Whatever happened, there is no doubt God or the universe or space aliens or whatever you want to call it has a vendetta on me. Dr. Curtis N. Maxwell Ph.D. D.Ed.
I don’t know what’s real. I don’t know who I am now. The very hand holding this pen is strange to me. Journaling is better than nothing since I can’t get therapy as things stand.
It all began Wednesday morning, August 31, with that mysterious note. Somehow it appeared in my locked filing cabinet in my office. Also carefully locked.
I had given my annual speech to the student body of Northwest High School. As usual I had committed it to memory.
“Good morning students. Class of 95. Also 96, 97 and 98. Welcome to Year Zero. Or as I prefer to call it the Perfect Year.
“During Year Zero we’re going to purge this school of all things detrimental. How? By putting meaningful teeth into our zero tolerance policies. While simultaneously increasing the number of rules requiring zero tolerance.”
Those semi literate rubes don’t understand anything. So I quit trying to dumb it down for them years ago.
“Despite my best efforts to cleanse this student body of drug abuse, bullying, gum chewing, littering, loitering, idle chit chat during classes, study halls, homeroom, or between class these misbehaviors still continue.
“The solution? No more study halls. Shorter lunch periods. And the time between classes will be cut to three minutes from the original five.
“Only plastic forks will be offered in the cafeteria. If you need your bread buttered the lunch lady will do it for you. No knives of any kind! No metal nail files or nail clippers either. Blunt tipped scissors will be allowed only in the art room.
“We are also performing mental hygiene screenings every quarter on students behaving oddly. This is to weed out potential criminals in our midst by diagnosing them as severely mentally ill beforehand so the faculty can keep a careful eye on them. This should prevent any bad behavior from them in the future,
“You noticed we’re not handing out print handbooks for Year Zero. This is why.”
I dropped the new handbook on the podium. My masterpiece.
“Too expensive to print. But it’s available on CD rom. Be sure to pick one up at the office today. Read it over in your spare time. Break the rules at your peril. Ignorance may be bliss but it’s no excuse for a broken rule.”
Some wag yelled, “Okay Barnie Fife! What a retard,” he continued to a girl on his left.
I glared at him. Then smiled and continued. “Just remember, these are the best years of your life. Have a great year.”
I remembered his name. Chad Webb had been awarded a football scholarship but he needed enough faculty signatures as well. College would always remain a dream for him now. (Alas.)
No applause. Plenty of groans.
I take that as a compliment. It means my speech was above the third grade reading level.
My years as a school administrator have taught me a valuable lesson. As long as I have their complete and utter respect I don’t need or even want my students’ affection.
Never before was there a generation so lazy, entitled and pampered as Gen X. Nor will there ever be one again.
I was having a really bad morning. Things were hectic and everyone else was acting dumber than usual.
My doctor’s office kept making calls. I never should have given them my cell number.
It didn’t help that Mr. Coffee had given out after the first five cups. My headache was driving me crazy.
While going through my filing cabinet I noticed a foreign object. Like blindingly white parchment. It lit up the filing drawer.
How did it get there? No one except the school secretary is allowed in it. I keep it locked and my office is always locked when I’m not there.
I stand six feet tall and weigh just a little more than a man of forty-five should. (Or did.) But I can walk very softly. This helps me figure out how the rest of the faculty are spending their time. Very inefficient without me to set the school right.
Despite my cat-like tread, the school secretary glanced up to see me. Ms. Ellis seems to have a secret infatuation for me. This she conceals behind grimaces and eye rolling. However I never encourage her, striving to maintain the proper professional atmosphere in a work environment.
“Code Red,” Ms. Ellis muttered to Mr. Bartlow, the social studies teacher. Some inside joke among the faculty I’m not in on. He looked up.
“Dr. Maxwell,” said Bartlow, “I’ve been working here for over forty years.”
“Are you here to discuss a retirement package?”
“No. Just pointing out my seniority. A little concerned about how drastic a lot of the changes you have made are.”
“Drastic situations require drastic remedies. If they behave like animals in a zoo we shall just have to limit their feeding time.”
“Was it necessary to cut the lunch period down to twenty minutes?”
“Necessary? No. It’s not necessary to prevent students from wandering off campus and dining out and committing various felonies while we’re legally liable for it.”
“Now Dr. Maxwell, those students didn’t break any laws unless you count hooky.”
“No. Not that time. But we can’t run any risks in the future. Now where’s the school custodian?”
“Bryan Medlin is at a court hearing for his son. I think you of all people would know that, sir.” Ms. Ellis is still ticked off about that.
“Yes. It is sad. But if Charles didn’t want to do the time he shouldn’t have done the crime.”
Suddenly, the otherwise quiet secretary had the nerve to lecture me. In front of everyone.
“Dr. Maxwell, you must have been able to see Chas’s black eye. His broken nose. How could you not? You called the police on the poor kid after he had been beaten up. Where’s your compassion? Don’t you have any pity?”
“Ms. Ellis, since you don’t seem especially busy right now, maybe you could help me.”
Ellis had been typing, but less than her usual 70 wpm. When she knows I’m looking on she will speed it up to 90 wpm or more per requirements. Complains it costs more time because she has to go over again for mistakes.
Pure laziness on her part.
I give her plenty to type since I carefully save documents and want them consolidated in a particular way. I also make sure she transcribes every single after school faculty meeting. These meetings occur on a semi-weekly basis. A lot of the teachers complain about how frequent they are, how long they last, and how they achieve nothing worthwhile. Pathetic whiners.
The secretary gave a groan and struggled with the springs of the office swivel chair.
“Immediately!” Ms. Ellis rose, but took too long because of the springs. I drummed my fingers from tension.
“How can I help you, sir?”
I led her to my office.
She’s one of the few allowed in my office. Everything was in its usual order. In the fifteen–going on sixteen–years I served as principal for this tiny jerkwater school, I have never changed anything in it. I only allow the furniture to be moved when the carpet is vacuumed. I thrive on orderly surroundings.
This is no ordinary filing cabinet. It contains various documents and forms in a proper order I devised that would have made Dewey green with envy.
“Ms. Ellis, do you have any idea of someone coming in or out of my office?”
“No, sir. No one has been in this room except you since Saturday night when the janitor vacuumed the carpet.”
“Are you sure of that? How many people do you think could have gotten in without your knowing?”
“Uh, Dr. Maxwell, if I didn’t know about them sneaking in how could I count them?”
I gestured for her to close the door. She obeyed.
“The reason I’m asking is…” I lowered my voice so she came near me, “someone appears to be playing a vicious prank on me. Apparently they sneaked into my office last night and left a threatening note on my filing cabinet.”
I showed her the mysterious paper on my desk. Lying between the “in” and “out” boxes, it stood out because of its unnatural whiteness. Like no kind of paper known to science.
Before I could order her not to, she grabbed the paper and examined it.
“This is odd,” she said. “The handwriting.”
“What about it?”
“Calligraphy is a hobby of mine. I know several kinds and can use three. But this is nothing like any of them. And I can’t figure out what kind of nub was used. Steel doesn’t have this effect. But quill might.”
Curtis Newman Maxwell
Son of Jonathon Eliot Maxwell
Renounce your sins. Do what is right.
Be kind to the oppressed.
The LORD God Almighty may spare you.
I stared at her. “Do you have any idea who could have left that note?”
She shook her head. “Has anyone tampered with the locks?”
“No. That’s the weird thing. The locks do not show any signs of being forced. And aside from this bizarre note left by some religious nut job, nothing else has been tampered with.”
The day goes on. Maxwell gets disgruntled by visits with two students. The first–whom he really despises–is Sylvia Henderson, an awkward misfit with emotional issues. She lives with her grandparents and is being sexually harassed. Irritably he dismisses her complaints on the grounds that it’s probably just delusions from being a paranoid schizophrenic. The second, Ken Bradley, wants to repeat his senior year to better qualify for college. Dr. Maxwell suggests he apply at McDonalds instead. Later on Mr. Goodman the guidance counselor drops by, suggesting the principal take a break since he seems burnt out.
Maxwell and Ms. Ellis work late. She mentions letting a student enroll online for the first time. Upset by the fact that the vice principal did it without consulting him and the secretary waited so long to tell him, Maxwell grudgingly gives his approval. Finally the secretary leaves.
I surveyed the administrative center, walking back to my office. Proudly I viewed the plaque for educational administrative achievement I’d been awarded back in 1989. “Where would this school be without me? I made this school what it is today. No help from anyone.”
I truly felt on top of the world. For the last time.
Ellis unexpectedly opened the door to the administration center and stuck her head in. “Dr. Maxwell, someone is here to see you.”
“A man in a white suit.” She smiled and sighed. “He’s gorgeous.”
I sighed. “It’s late for anyone to show up–especially without an appointment. Probably the software vendor I wish to consult. Show him in.”
When the stranger entered, I saw why most women, including Ellis, would consider him gorgeous. At least 6’4″ and well built with an air of vitality, somewhere between 35 and 40 years old. He was clean shaven with regular, chiseled features. His swarthy complexion and black hair made me guess he was Hispanic or from the Middle East.
“Hello. I’m Nathan Messenger.”
Two other things: he had no briefcase and his business suit was an uncanny white that made my eyes water. The suit reminded me of something. What?
“Pleased to meet you Mr. Messenger. I’m Dr. Maxwell. Do you have any product descriptions with you?”
He held out his hand and I took it in a perfunctory handshake. A burning spread through my hand and up my right arm. This bothered me.
“No. I do not.”
Pulling my hand away, I smiled so as not to appear rude to a respectable member of an ethnic minority. It came to me why that suit seemed familiar. Its dazzling whiteness was the same as the ominous note I had found that morning. Very odd.
I attributed it to sleep deprivation at the time but his presence gave a sense of uncomfortable space to the office. Adding something too large and lively to my carefully ordered existence. Like a brisk spring breeze in a closet where it did not belong.
“I am not here to sell you anything. My business is to deliver a message. From Heaven.”
That name. Nathan Messenger. It was the writer of that bizarre note.
Smiling still and nodding, I groped for my cell to dial 911. Nathan Messenger didn’t seem to have a firearm. His outfit didn’t have many places to conceal one. He might have a switch-blade though.
“Your cell battery is dead, Curtis Maxwell. No good calling anyone till you recharge it.” Nathan’s voice was matter-of-fact. I tried the phone and saw he was right.
I tried the office phone. No signal.
“A squirrel has chewed through the school phone line. As planned.”
I began to feel afraid.
“Listen to what I have to say. You remember the note from this morning?”
I felt my mouth drop open, and I nodded.
“I left it.”
“How-how did you get past the new security system?”
“It only goes off if you use doors or windows for entry.”
“Of course.” I grew dizzy. Then sat in the secretary’s chair.
“I’m not here to sell you anything. My mission is to give you one last chance to mend your ways. The LORD God is merciful. Even now He will withhold your punishment if you repent.”
Somehow I didn’t feel like reminding my visitor that mentioning God as anything but a curse word was unacceptable on Northwest High’s premises.
When the room quit spinning, I realized my final cups of instant coffee had caught up with my bladder. But it would have to wait.
“What do I have to repent of? I’m a decent guy.”
“Are you? Remember Charles Medlin?”
“That kid did something illegal. Recording a private conversation without consent from the other party is against the law. I was right to notify the police.”
“Physical assault is also illegal. You knew he was hurt even before he played the recording. And made no effort to get him medical help. Why do you always side with the bully, Curtis Maxwell?”
“I’ll have you know we have a zero tolerance policy on bullying in this school. Any student who is victimized is encouraged to come in and fill out a form regarding the incident. This allows the faculty the opportunity to deal with said incident at their discretion.”
“If I went through every student, faculty and staff member you have wronged we would be here till noon tomorrow. A lot of prayers have gone up on your behalf.”
Nathan Messenger shook his head. “They are begging for relief from your oppression. Repent or your tyranny will end tonight. With very unpleasant consequences for you.”
Tyranny? Was this a joke?
I glared at him. “Consequences?”
“All that you delight in will be stripped from you. You will be made the lowest of the low. Those beneath you now will mock you and hold you in contempt. You will beg them for help. Your authority, commanding presence, strength, stature, speaking ability, status will all vanish like the morning dew under the summer sun.”
I gaped. Nathan continued. “You have one last chance. Say you’re sorry.”
“Say I’m sorry? For what? I’m a decent, law abiding man who’s always played by the rules. I work hard to enforce the rules that hold this school and society together.”
“Your judgment will be the rules. You appeal to the Law. By that Law you will be judged. Like every student here.”
“I won’t apologize. I’ve done nothing wrong! You’re out of your ever loving mind!”
“It would be best for you to become like a little child of your own free will, Curtis Maxwell.” The Messenger smiled. “So you refuse?”
Now I know why that sick bastard was smiling when he said that.
“Too bad. I hope the punishment works. Severity is your only hope. If all goes well you’ll thank Him eventually.”
“You’re insane,” I told him coolly. He didn’t look violent despite his size, smiling like a simpleton. “Aside from a little parlor magic I have seen no proof of your ridiculous claims.”
“You will receive your ultimate proof tomorrow Curtis,” something about his tone made me shudder. “Before then I’ll show you a brief glimpse of my unveiled form.”
Suddenly he swelled and melted into a terrifying vision. Impossible to fully describe.
Many wings flapping around dozens…no, hundreds of eyes. Not human eyes…wise and ancient…ruthlessly penetrating into my innermost being as though to consume or unmake me. A white hot fire at the core…overpowering heat. As much a part of the creature as the wings and eyes.
I couldn’t see for a while once it left. My ears were full of deranged screams–till I realized they were mine. Once some of my vision returned and I could think straight I found I no longer had to relieve my bladder or bowels. I tried to stagger to the bathroom to clean myself.
Still overwhelmed by the terror I had seen I collapsed to the floor in a faint. As though in a coma I lay there the whole night.
Now I come to the painful, horrific part of the story. The part that makes my skin crawl.
The sane, rational part of my mind cries out against this waking nightmare in disbelief. Yet my senses tell me otherwise. For the horror continues, though not around me. It is me.
When I opened my eyes, light came through the window in my office. I must have stumbled through the door before fainting. Dawn had just started.
My vision had improved dramatically. I’d left those new bifocals on my desk before the uncanny visitor showed up but now I no longer needed them. I blinked and swallowed.
Apparently I had control of my body again. From what I had heard about strokes they left their marks in paralysis, inability to speak, or other horrible limitations afterward.
Had it been a heart attack? I couldn’t believe it was that. Considering that I had spent the night on a cement floor my circulation was great. No aches and pains. Even my arthritic knee was pain free.
If I had only known the horrors awaiting me I would have remained there on the floor till sweet death claimed me.
I wiggled all ten fingers and toes. So far, so good. Before picking myself up off the office floor I stretched my limbs as far as possible. Unusually flexible.
I found I was wrapped in loose folds of cloth from throat to toes. My shoes were gone. They must have fallen off when I collapsed the night before. My watch was also gone. And I had soiled myself too as I now recalled.
Baffled by my swaddling, I pulled myself to my feet. The folds of cloth nearly fell off my body. Now I realized they were nothing more than my ordinary office suit, suddenly grown too big. Even my tie was loose. (I never cheat by wearing clip-ons.)
Judging by the desk and other furniture in the room I had shrunk several inches.
Heart pounding, I rolled up one of the sleeves and trembled when I saw the skinny, hairless arm underneath. I closed my eyes and willed things back to normal. When I reopened them I saw that they remained the same–large room, oversized clothes, the scrawny arm–despite my fervent desires.
This was why my watch had fallen off.
“No. No. No.” At the sound of the voice coming out I panicked.
I have always taken pride in my speaking voice. A golden voice. Many women have praised it as “dreamy” and a “bedroom voice.” A professional voice, polished and perfectly modulated for every occasion.
This was not my voice. It was a quavering treble rather than my firm baritone and it cracked on the last word.
I put my hand to my face nervously. Gasping, I jerked it away. Instead of morning stubble requiring a shave I felt a smooth, oily surface. With a raised bump or two that itched to touch.
My mouth felt odd too. Not just unbrushed teeth. A metallic taste I hadn’t experienced since my braces came off thirty years ago. As a high school freshman. I ran my tongue along my teeth, feeling the wires.
Paralyzed I heard the quiet of the empty school end as someone came through the front doors. I guessed it was the janitor. Bryan would be filling his mop bucket at the utility center.
Panic set in. Disentangling myself from the oversized, filthy trousers around those spindly legs I made it to the bathroom and flicked on the light.
Now I encountered a mirror. I looked at the face in it that I didn’t recognize–at first.
For a few seconds I stared at it. My old nemesis. How I loathe that pathetic, round-cheeked, big-eyed face. It is just begging some bigger kid to punch it. The sight disgusted me so I vomited in the sink.
On washing off the puke I was forced to view the mirror again. The boy staring back at me looked terrified and helpless, which made me hate him all the more.
I scoured that thin, puny body so hard with paper towels and dispenser soap I rubbed patches of skin off. Beside myself with revulsion, I laughed and wept hysterically.
This ordeal has given me a new appreciation for the genre of body horror.
It hit me what the creature’s words had meant now. Truly a grotesque punishment.
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No body--one of unique parts--
But pieces cut to match the die.
God made love from the you and I.
His image smashed and forced apart.
No beauty. Nothing special now.
And forced to dance Their ugly steps.
Yet tears from human eyes that wept
Trace those six feet. We weave and bow.
Dear God--see what they made of us.
This overtook us. And it's just.
We turned our backs upon your grace.
They caught us. And destroyed Your face.
Yet for Your image hear us plea.
We call You in humility.
The year of 2020 was stressful to me. I never suffered material want. I was never ill with Covid nor any other sickness and my heart rate returned to normal. Yet–along with loneliness common to all–I sensed something evil at work.
A spiritual weakness of mine is an openness or vulnerability to Satan I struggle with. Had it since I was a child. My mother suffered with it while carrying me and caring for me as an infant. Thankfully the Lord helped me compensate by giving me the spiritual gift of discernment so I am not as easily deceived as I would otherwise be.
Anyhow the 2020 lockdown just felt wrong. It sounded kind and responsible on the surface. But digging deeper shows what I can only see as an anti human agenda. We are made in God’s image–yet forces of powerful men (and I can only believe the prince of this world) wish to mar that image. To fundamentally transform it into something more to their liking.
Am I the only one who thinks of a Grade B body horror flick at this thought?