I clutched my rifle tighter, staring around at the corners of the room. The shadows – were they growing darker? I swore that, out of the corner of my eye, I could see things darting back and forth in the darkness.
But when I brought the stock around, the weapon’s iron sights quivering despite my extensive training, there was nothing. I swung back and forth, desperate and afraid to turn my back on any one corner for too long.
“Come out!” I shrieked, my voice sounding high-pitched and desperate. “Come and face me!”
My cry was answered by a rustle of dry silk, and I spun as the newcomer materialized out of the air.
He was a man, if a man was stripped of all that made him a man. He stood too tall, his limbs were too thin, jointed in too many places. His details were shrouded by that dry, ancient silk, torn black strips hanging and fluttering in the nonexistent breeze. His head was all but hairless, but his eyes were two pools of midnight. He lifted his head from his sunken chest, and those eyes locked onto me.
“Why our world?” I beseeched the figure. “We didn’t ask for you here! We never summoned you, or your nightmare god!”
The figure seemed to pay no notice to my weapon. I doubted that it would do much damage, anyway. He was a Prophet, so filled with the dark glory of his master that there was not a single individual thought left in his head. “You did not summon,” he wheezed, his voice a rasp across the ridges of my brain. “And yet we came.”
“If you can choose to come, than you can choose to leave!” I shouted. It wasn’t my imagination – the shadows were darkening, solidifying, intruding in on the faint and failing circle of light that sheltered me for the moment. “He may be your god, but he isn’t ours!”
The figure raised a hand, long fingers unfolding with too many joints. “He was not our God,” the figure whispered. “But in the end, it made no difference.”
The shadows leapt forward, coiling around his finger and jumping out across the gap towards me. I tightened my finger, and the weapon in my hand spat rounds at my attacker, but they seemed to pass through without effect. I hadn’t expected them to do much, anyway.
The ribbon of shadow tightened around my face, cutting off all vision. For just a moment, I felt pain, and then, by the grace of mercy, it all melted away. I sank into the comfortable blackness of oblivion.
And then the ribbons of darkness wrapped around me once more, hauling me out of my eternal slumber and into eternal horror.