's 2018 Horror Write-off:

Confusing apparition at my apartment

Submitted by gozuforce

You know, I enjoy living in an old building's attic turned apartment, I really do. You would think it would be austere, cold and generally unpleasant, but not in my case. It’s pretty peaceful, actually, especially since no one wants to rent the apartment below because of the 6 floors of stairs without elevator. Those wusses!
I’m a weirdo to be fair. I like the limited light provided by the one roof window in the middle of my main room, I find the cobwebs on the wooden beams a charming sight, I definitively enjoy the isolation, and I have a soft spot for the unique smell of the dust there.

But, after what happened, I’m a little more worried honestly. I don’t know why it happened, the isolation, the age of the place, hell, maybe it’s the dust. Whatever, the short of it is for some reason I’m convinced it could only have come to my apartment.

It was one of those nights for me. The ones where it’s past midnight and I’m being too lazy to sleep and too self indulgent to do anything productive, so I just watch some stupid cartoon from the 80’s, sometimes all the way to sunrise.
Here I am snugging in my bedroom, a small place barely bigger than my mattress, coated with pillows and plushies. A pretty cozy place, I might add.
I’m right in the middle of an epic duel for the fate of the world (or the crystal kingdom, I forgot) when a loud crash resound from my main room, with hints of broken glass.
I bolt out of my bedroom, and armed with my loyal wireless keyboard, I open the door to inspect the causes of that mess. Off course, I am not really thinking an intruder has jumped into my apartment through the roof window. The keyboard is just a stupid reflex, a decision coming right from my reptilian brain.
At that point I mostly expect to find a dead bird among shards of broken glass, or something like that.

What I find instead, is my main room pretty much in state I had left it. The cupboard is still on its place, so are the trinkets and figurines I had displayed on the horizontal beam that divides the room. And the window is very much intact. That makes it hard to believe anything had happened at all, even if the noise I heard, so loud and seeming so close, could only have been coming from here.
The only unusual thing I note was the lamp on my desk being turned on, even though I don’t remember touching my desk all day. The desk is on the adjacent wall from my bedroom door and the other side of the wooden bean. Calming down despite my confusion, I cross the room to press the switch, guessing I had imagined that noise somehow.

So far, nothing too memorable has happened, and if things had stopped here, I wouldn’t even remember that. The real weirdness starts after putting the light off, when turning around toward my bedroom. I feel a pull, as if something had grabbed my pajama’s top behind me. And indeed, Looking back, my pajama seems to have goten stuck.
But there is nothing. I’m already too far from the desk or any other furniture to get caught on, and the wooden beams are in front of me. The stretched fabric is just kind of floating in the middle of nowhere. Confused, I decide against my better judgment to inspect the phenomena closer. Thinking some loose thread is bound somewhere and pulls the rest, I wave my hand around the stuck area to catch it. But I touch nothing, no thread, and even fewer obstacles to explain that hindrance.
That alone is confusing, but what really has my attention is a small surface of my pajama is missing. Not that it’s been cut, mind you, I can’t see or touch it, but I know it’s still there because the point my pajama is stuck at is right in that area. In other words, the invisible part of pajama is pulling the rest because it’s stuck on something.
At this point I’m somewhat out of ideas, so I grab the fabric and tug it sharply, freeing the whole, and causing the invisible area to spring out of nowhere.
I appreciate that, but I soon hear something brushing against the wooden tiles.

At first, it’s a small glob of indistinct shape floating in the air, a few centimeters up from where I unhooked my pajama. But it grows bigger, and more complex. Although ‘‘growing’’ gives the wrong impression really, it feels more like an unfolding. Like it was an inflating parade mascot going out of a very small invisible box. Or rather, it’s like reality recreating that cheesy effect were you mirror a video four times and anything in the middle seems to appear and disappear mysteriously.
At some point, as it continues getting bigger, the glob’s features start separating somewhat. As such, when the glob is at human size and stops “growing”, what I have to call legs and arms touch the ground, and they carry what should be a body with a “head” between the two arms. All this identifies the apparition, at least in the use it has for its appendages, as a humanoid of sort.

However, saying that feels like a bad interpretation of the apparition.
Even under the limited light, I notice the form is inconsistent from moment to moment. Not that it’s shapeshifting or anything, but as its breathing moves its body, it looks like it has a different appearance. Sometimes it’s just textures or colors changing, like blue-ish scales turning into yellow shinning feathers then into something similar to little bells. Other moments it has completely new shapes of head or legs, or a new size. And, rarely, the entire structure would change, from bipedal on its hands to eight-legged with a central head, or to slug-like. At some point I even see it with five spines branching from the legs and joining back at the head. And my descriptions are way oversimplified here, because very often I can see multiple versions existing at the same time.
Imagine having dozens of images stacked atop one another, except like a game glitching together two objects at the same place, the images aren’t consistent in how much we can see each of them, as if they were confusing their order constantly.
This is would be half of my visual experience. The other half is the fact that my eyes can’t agree with each other at any point. On the right eye I would have four serpent tails for limbs, while on the left the apparition would look like it’s made of cotton-candy. Imagine watching a lenticular card that has too many steps, so you end up seeing multiple versions of the same image at each eye. And I guess someone keeps swapping the lenticular image for a different one?

Look, that night was weird, so I’m sorry if I exhaust you with my metaphors, but things are hard to explain already. So, just, bear with here, okay?

The apparition is so complex my head hurts looking at it. As I try to understand it, stepping away until I feel the wooden beam on my spine, the apparition stands still, sideways, its “head” cast downward. Then, it extend one of its limbs, farther than the arm’s reach its position indicates, and press the desk-lamp switch.
This, off course, lights the room. And it turns that surreal encounter into a fully realized nightmare.

Turns out that until that moment, my experience of the apparition was softened by the obscurity. I just couldn’t see how impossible that thing is. But with full exposure, all bets are off.

Not to get overly dramatic, this creature is not something a human was ever supposed to look at.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean that in a “spooky monster too scary for my sanity” or a “science is evil and knowledge is forbidden” sense. I mean that the thing is too much at the same time and the same place.
All those versions of the apparition I had glimpses of, turn into infinitely elaborate bodies and all jump at my eyes at the same time. I can see the smallest part of each of those shapes as a complex object that has its own ornate parts, every inch an inexhaustible well of never-ending subdivisions that I somehow still see, like zooming into a fractal. A leaf on one leg has little red triangles, each with blue and dots, each dot adorning a different elaborate flower-like decoration, the lines of those featuring wave patterns made of encrusted gems, and so on and so on.
And I still have in front of me that impossible superposition of bodies, inexplicably parts of the same being. And each body has the same amount of details.
So when I say something a human wasn’t meant to see, I mean watching that thing brings so much information to the brain, including a lot of things that it doesn’t think are making any sense, that it can’t process anything properly. To actually live around whatever the apparition is, you need a completely different cognitive system, possibly on an unrecognizable set of logic, or maybe just a more powerful brain.

One thing is clear, at least. My brain does not handle the thing at all! The slight headache I was feeling before turns immediately into a stampede of elephants walking on needle-stilts all around inside my cranium, while a different pain seizes my eyeballs, which somehow feels like they are drinking a poisonous salt.

I blink, trying to calm the pains, but opening my eyes again offers me the strangest experience of my entire life.
I don’t know how that works, but my brain, overwhelmed by what I was witnessing, seems to confuse everything around me with everything I ever saw. The most vivid hallucinations transform it all into an ever-changing mismatch of objects and textures. Book covers, paintings, subway tickets, movie scenes (with characters replaced by other things), illustrations of all sorts, flattened details of my first girlfriend’s body, raindrops, all sorts of things replaced my walls.
My desk turned into a hybrid of my family’s dog, a crushed toad I once saw, and what I think is my interpretation of a Silent Hill monster. Looking to my left, I notice the wooden beams are filled with all sorts of people, ones I’ve seen all my life, ones I met once, celebrities, and confused messes of half remembered details that would almost seem human if they were on scale to the bodies they covered. My figurines shake violently, or are somehow replaced by white noise. My keyboard, which fell on the ground(now made of orange melted but solid chocolate) is a snake with cicada legs and sunflowers. The cupboard in the distance is made of eyes. I can also see various bits of landscapes and monuments behind the flesh-beams, spreading to the infinite as if my walls there were torn off and the world outside had been compacted by a bad photoshop artist.

I probably would have tried to rip my eyes out if I could just will myself to move anything. My head managed one slight turn at the start of that crisis but now everything is just paralyzed, my brain seems to have shut down almost anything that isn’t linked to my sight. Even that doesn’t help, and I feel the edges of my vision blurring, as I lose sensation in my limbs.

Then, it suddenly faded away. No dizziness, my pain subdues, no more messy hallucinations distorting my surroundings. Actually, no surroundings at all. Everything seems to have vanished under a homogeneous brownish fog. The only variation in its color is a dim light from my desk lamp.
It takes me a moment to realize I’m just wearing a paper bag over my head. But how did I get covered with that? A little skeptical, I turn to what is the only being in the room.

At this point, I’m not even surprised to discover I can actually see the apparition through the paper bag as clearly as if the thing were printed on it.
Well, not quite. Upon closer inspection, I only see a handful of its variants, instead of the countless ones I could see before. And It is also less detailed, more natural looking, so to speak.
I figure, since my brain is back at a normal rythme, that the bag is intended to make the encounter bearable for me by hiding some aspects of the apparition from my sight.

The apparition has turned itself to face me, showing its back to my desk lamp. Oddly enough, even as its staring me, I can sense in its expressions an effort to communicate harmless intentions. It’s doing as comforting a smile as possible with the faces that can, it presents its hands and comparable things open and palm up, as if trying to prove it isn’t armed.

That just makes me laugh. I mean, that’s the only sane reaction here, right?
That thing, that has apparently more versions of its body at the same time than I have strands of hair on my entire body, That creature which can disable me entirely just by being visible, a thing seemingly more complex than my entire world is trying to convince ma it wasn’t going to stab me or something. that’s just plain funny.
Then I just slumps sitting on the ground. I am just too exhausted to do much more than that.
The apparition makes new gestures to explain itself (very nice of it to not talk by the way, I don’t know if I could have survived hearing the voice of that thing). It points at the light, then slide the finger to an area I didn’t notice before. It’s a sort of black irregular line, starting at one of its right sides, running through the body of its other variants until it disappear behind its back. Then a few of its hands mimic something flowing to an opening and making it close.
I nod. It’s a bit clumsy, but the story is clear. The thing needs to close that line, and the light from my desk is doing that. Then a last pantomime (the thing has clock-arms, that’s convenient!) tells me it will take five minutes.

And so, that’s very anticlimactically how the rest of the encounter went. Me sitting on the ground, the apparition healing from whatever that black area was with the power of my light. Then, when it was done, it nodded to me and walked to nothingness the same way it appeared. Once the coast was clear, I took off the back. No sign of my encounter was left, aside from the desk lamp turned on and, on the ground, three bank notes, probably a payment for the trouble.

Now, you might think that I am scared of encountering the apparition (or something like it) again if I stay here. That is a concern, although not the strongest since it did act pretty peacefully, friendly even. I have two bigger issues honestly.
First off, there is the existential implications. I mean, if something like that exists, and apparently can hide itself from us whenever it wants, what does it says about our world? Are we just paper-thin beings on a paper-thin world, compared to other creatures that live around us and look at our limited lives with pity or contempt? I was fine knowing that most of the universe is sealed away from our perspective, but I believed living things couldn’t access those parts. Now, I got a glimpse into what could be a civilization of creatures that exists around us without our knowledge and that feels uneasy to me.
Then there is a simple question, a more direct concern. If I got it correctly, that black line was a wound, right? Like the thing got hurt, bad enough that it fell in my apartment and could no longer stay hidden from me, and at first couldn’t react to the human that could see it. That sounds like a life-threatening cut there.
So is there violence in its world? Violence that can actually hurt it? And what happens if that violence affects our world? What if the next thing that falls through my window isn’t as merciful?