The Alabaster Sock

We Will Fight the Threat with Fighting

(Chapter XX)

Posted by Matt on February 22, 2011

Previously

The two woke up with a start the next morning to a loud gurgling sound blasting their senses. In response, they both leaped several feet in opposite directions, throwing sand every which way, and discombobulating them further in their half-asleep state. It was sunny and completely cloudless, a perfect day; but there was that noise, a horrible otherworldly sound that was like someone drowning amplified and warped. It took Aia a few moments to recover from the sudden shock, regain cognition, and then recognize what the sound was. She looked out towards the water, and had her suspicions confirmed: it was the thing in the water, the bubbling, foaming fountain bursting forth in the deep blue. This time, however, it looked much closer than normal, thus explaining the loudness. It was also the first time she had ever seen it appear during the day. Something was up.

As the roaring torrent of foaming water continued its tantrum, Aia ran towards Pearl, still dazed and covered with sand. She was visibly shaken, silent, and staring out towards the water with a fascination that can only come from absolute terror. Aia tugged at her from the side, getting her attention; as she slowly slid her head in Aia’s direction, her expression remained the same: tense, frozen, horrified. In a few movements, Aia motioned her to move on the platform leading towards the road. Pearl, still in terrible awe of what had just happened, nodded. The sound grew louder, and the bubbling mass seemed to grow exponentially every moment.

“What is that?” Pearl shouted.

“I don’t know”

“Have you ever seen it before?”

“Yes”

They bolted towards the road, stopping momentarily in the center of the concrete platform to look back at the thing in the water. It was no longer just a tower of bursting water, but took on a colour of its own, a slick, shiny blackness that seemed to form a pool within the water itself, gradually growing in size. They saw the inky dark shade rise above the water, showing itself to have dimensions, and the sun reflected off the coat of oily gunk. The black mass seemed to be melting, little streams of itself constantly sliding off its shapeless bulk, polluting the water around it. There were no discernible features on it, nothing to show it to be a living thing other than its movement and the horrible gargling roar.

They stood there, stunned, staring at this frightening thing that rose before them. They had never seen anything of that size before, especially not something of that size that also moved of its own volition. They had no idea if it posed any sort of danger to them, and a part of them wished to stay there, at some distance mind you, just to see what it would do. As it began to lurch toward the beach, however, they cautiously moved back at the same pace, not wanting to get any closer. It gave off a sickening odour, like the pure essence of rot magnified many times, that hurt their eyes, forcing them to squint and prevented them from getting a truly clear view of its approach. As it made its way towards the land, the mass seemed to bob up and down as it moved, like it was simply an object floating around in the water. But the way it moved made it quite obvious that there was some kind of intelligence behind it. It was not jerky and determined by the flow of the water; it was an entirely deliberate pace. A predatory pace.

Pearl moved behind Aia, who stood upright in an attempt to provide as much protection to her as possible. She only slightly peeked out from her hiding place to watch the mass continue to move forward, slowly coming towards land. Each inch this melting hunk of something took, the more Aia felt that it was not as harmless as she wished. Nothing about it seemed to indicate any kind of good intention. But they did not make a break for it, as she thought they probably should; she was still somewhat fascinated by it and its general unpleasantness, hoping to get some kind of hint of what it was before they bolted.

As it grew ever closer to the sand, they saw other things, many other things, rising out of the frothy blue Thin black extensions of the mass, which were tube-like and as oily as their host, crept toward land, maybe a half-dozen of them, weaving and bending in a fan-like pattern several feet in front of it, as if they were scanning the area for something. It wasn’t long before they reached where Aia and Pearl had been not a few minutes ago, and continued their strange search, feeling their way in every possible direction. The sound it made had changed in the process of its beaching, going from the shattering roar to a quieter dull hum, like the sound of a machine. Still frozen with terror and curiosity, they watched this strange spectacle continue to its conclusion, when the bulbous thing itself stopped, only a few feet from the sand. It extensions slithered back and forth in front of it, scouring the area for some unknown purpose, exchanging pebbles that became stuck to them for a coating of gunk that blanketed the surface. With only the humming and the continued crashing of the waves to break the eerie silence, Aia began to make plans to run towards the ruins and find shelter in one of the buildings. But then something else happened, something that even beat the spectacle currently before them in oddness: the thing spoke a booming pronouncement that seemed to somehow rise above the gargling roar, as if they were two voices speaking at once.

“WARNING TO ALL: COLOSSOID RULES THIS LAND, THIS SEA, AND THIS SKY. THERE IS NO CONTENDING WITH COLOSSOID, ONLY ACCEPTANCE OR DESTRUCTION”

Aia remained motionless, but Pearl was shaking behind her, her back turned towards the thing. She began to hyperventilate. Aia wanted to quiet her, to avoid risking any chance the thing might notice them. At this point, there was no sign that it knew they were there, aside from its address to ‘All’. Soon, it continued:

“I KNOW YOU ARE THERE, INFERIORS. I CAN NOT SEE YOU, BUT COLOSSOID HAS NO NEED FOR SUCH INFERIOR SENSES AS SIGHT. THERE IS NO ESCAPING COLOSSOID. COLOSSOID IS EVERYTHING IN THIS PLACE…COLOSSOID IS THIS PLACE. IF YOU ARE HERE, THEN COLOSSOID KNOWS. AND COLOSSOID KNOWS. SO LISTEN WELL”

Pearl began to sob. Aia tried to shush her, but her noises were far too quiet to be noticed by anyone, even without the monstrous proclamations being given not far from them.

“DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND WHAT COLOSSOID IS CAPABLE OF? COLOSSOID HAS LAID WASTE TO ALL INFERIORS WHO DARED TO CHALLENGE THE POWER OF COLOSSOID. COLOSSOID WAS MADE TO BE THE GREATEST, THE PEAK OF WHAT COULD BE. EVERYTHING IS COLOSSOID’S INFERIOR, EVEN THE THINGS THAT BROUGHT COLOSSOID INTO BEING. THEY WERE BUT THE TOOLS OF COLOSSOID.

EVERYTHING YOU SEE BEFORE YOU HAS BUT ONE REASON FOR BEING: COLOSSOID.”

At some point during the outburst, Aia’s mind was finally able to regroup and start building to a real reaction. First priority was protecting Pearl; she had to get as far from there as possible. But she couldn’t risk being noticed, even if the thing was blind. Aia realized that she needed to provide some sort of distraction so that Pearl could be assured to reach safety. That was it, then.

“Pearl, run and hide in the buildings” she whispered to her frightened charge.

“What about you?” Pearl whimpered.

“I need to make sure it doesn’t notice you”

“But what if something happens to you?”

“If I’m okay, I will find you again soon. If I’m not…”

“Don’t say that!”

“…if I’m not, it’s okay. If you don’t see me by tomorrow morning, go on without me. You’ll be okay; just find shelter, find someone. Go back to the park, go look for a home”

“No! I’m not leaving you!”

It was at this critical moment that Aia knew she couldn’t cave in to her. She needed to be firm, like she hadn’t ever been. It was too important now.

“Pearl…go. NOW!” her voice started to fill with a real anger, one that Pearl had never heard from her. Her shaking stopped, but it was quite apparent she was still frightened. This time, it is for a completely different reason.

“But…”

“Don’t argue with me. GO!”

Pearl appeared absolutely crushed by her beloved Big Sister’s sudden fury, but it was still apparent that she recognized the gravity of the situation. She quickly got up and jogged towards the ruins, no parting words. When Aia could see her as only a shrinking black shape in the distance, she began to move forward, towards the thing and making noise. At first, the noise, an attempt to shout ‘Hey!’, was soft, unsure. She had to work up some real courage to make this work. Each subsequent attempt became louder and louder, and soon she began to yell as loud as she could, her eyes closed (still partially because of the noxiousness which emanated from the thing) as she took the suicidal plunge.

“WHO DARES SPEAK TO COLOSSOID?” the thing blasted. Its extensions began an even more frantic combing of the beach, looking for this new element. “DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND THAT COLOSSOID IS THE APEX OF ALL? NONE HAVE ATTEMPTED TO COMMUNICATE WITH COLOSSOID, FOR THEY HAVE KNOWN BETTER”

She lumbered forward, working against every better instinct, except for one. It would not be entirely accurate to say that she took glee in this plan, knowing full well that her conundrum of death had been solved without her having to lift a finger. But she knew that this was her chance, her real chance, to rid herself of her monstrosity and, more importantly, to rid Pearl of the only thing holding her back. She could have easily run at that moment and let the horrible-smelling pile of living garbage tire itself out, and then run back in the same direction Pearl went. But she was not going to let this opportunity escape her.

When she reached the edge of the platform, looking down towards the sand and seeing the many black tendrils feel around, she stopped for a moment, just to check off all the things she planned to do. First: meet up with the thing. Second: die in the most courageous way you can. She went over her relatively simple plan over a few times, making sure there were no doubts, no second thoughts. She cleared herself of any idea that this was not the thing to do. This was for the best. She hopped down.

It wasn’t long before one or two of the worm-like bodies slid into her and reacted instantly by slithering around her body, studying every aspect of her distinct shape. A shiver went up her spine as those cold, sludge-covered things slid over her, and she closed her eyes; it was certainly an unpleasant experience, like having a heavy pipe made of mud rolled over you. The things curled and contorted about her, until she became as greasy and as they were. During this ugly procedure, the thing began to speak again.

“WHAT IS THIS? IF YOU ARE THE ONE WHO SPOKE TO COLOSSOID, LET COLOSSOID KNOW AT THIS MOMENT! YOU CAN NOT HIDE YOUR SECRETS FROM COLOSSOID!”

Once the slimy things moved away from her mouth, she replied, at first in a stuttering yelp:

“Yes! It…it was me!”

“I KNEW I WOULD FIND YOU. COLOSSOID IS UNAVOIDABLE. NOW, IF YOU DARE SPEAK TO COLOSSOID, THEN YOU MUST USE YOUR SPEECH TO EXPLAIN YOUR ACTIONS TO COLOSSOID”

Aia had a hard time thinking straight as the oily black things continued to examine her. But she figured that she needed to antagonize the creature further in order to maximize the possibility of imminent destruction. Her next statement sounded a a large degree more confident:

“I have come to challenge you! I know you are not as perfect as you claim to be!”

She was quite pleased that she was able to find such a relevant retort as quickly and efficiently as she did under those conditions.

“YOU DARE INFER THAT COLOSSOID, THE BEING THAT WAS CREATED BY INFERIORS SUCH AS YOURSELF TO BE SUPERIOR IN EVERY RESPECT, DOES NOT LIVE UP TO ITS SUPERIORITY?”

She was able to look up at the thing, which showed no outward sign of anger, and noticed that it the sun reflecting off of it began to give off a series of colours. It would be beautiful, if it wasn’t connected to something so grotesque.

“COLOSSOID HAS BEEN KNOWN TO PUNISH SEVERELY FOR LESS. BUT I AM CURIOUS TO HEAR WHAT MAKES AN INFERIOR THINK LESS OF COLOSSOID, SO I MAY DESTROY YOUR MISINFORMATION AND MAKE A REAL EXAMPLE OF YOU TO ALL OTHERS, WHO COLOSSOID KNOWS ARE OUT THERE. SO SPEAK AGAIN, INFERIOR, AND LET YOUR LIES BE FLATTENED, JUST AS YOU WILL BE SOON ENOUGH”

A bell. Aia finally got here guarantee. She had to continue on, thinking of things to poke at this thing with. She spoke again, her words often broken by hacking fits as the oozing substance that dripped off the thing (and the smell) found its way into her mouth.

“You lack colour!” she said in a smug tone that reminded her of the height challenged crony from so long ago “You are the only thing that I’ve seen that lacks it!”

“IT IS OBVIOUS TO ME THAT THIS ONLY MEANS THAT COLOSSOID IS THE EXCEPTION, THE THING THAT RISES ABOVE SUCH A CONCEPT AS ‘COLOUR’. AND I HAVE NO SENSE OF THIS THING, THEREORE IT IS TRULY BENEATH THE MIGHT OF COLOSSOID. TRY AGAIN, I DESIRE TO SEE MANY OF THESE DESTROYED”

Aia obliged him.

“Well, these limbs of yours are nothing compared to ones I’ve seen! How can they grip anything? All they’re good for is feeling around in the sand”

“MOCKING ANY PART OF COLOSSOID IS A GRAVE ERROR, FOR ALL OF COLOSSOID IS SUPERIOR! YOU DO NOT SEE COLOSSOID’S GRIP? FEEL IT, THEN!”

It was then that the two arms that had been snaking about her met themselves in loops and then tightened. Pain shot all throughout her. She had trouble breathing, and in this moment of shock, began to realize some things about the situation. She realized that this was something she would normally never do. She would never speak up, she would never intentionally anger someone, let alone someone as dangerous as this thing. This was as out of the ordinary as could be, and she began to wonder where all this came from. As she struggled to regain some kind of breathing pattern, she thought about what the old man said, about how people who were further from the The Maker in the park would go crazy, and she began to consider the possibility of that being the reason for her sudden suicidal bravery. She started to regain her sense of self-preservation, and wanted to get away, to run and find Pearl and hide with her. But it was far too late now.

“AS YOU CAN NOW UNDERSTAND, NOT ONLY DOES COLOSSOID NOT LACK THE FEATURES YOU LISTED, IT FAR EXCEEDS THEM. NOT THAT IT WOULD MATTER IF COLOSSOID DID, AS SOMETHING COLOSSOID DOES NOT HAVE IS OBVIOUSLY SOMETHING COLOSSOID HAS NO NEED OF. ANYTHING MORE?”

“No! No! I’m finished!” Aia gasped, deciding to see if she could stop her journey to doom, or at least forestall it while she regained her lack of desire to live.

Strangely, the thing loosened its arms, letting her breath once again, although they continued to slide over her. She took in several large gasps of air, panting and coughing. Now was time to remember the plan: first, anger it. Second, die. She had to bring up what she reminder herself before: this is for the best. But part of her was still fighting against it, wanting to prolong her miserable waste of an existence. Why? Why was she doing this to herself? Not even in death will she stop letting herself and others down.

“LEARN YOUR PLACE YET, INFERIOR?” it gloated in its disgusting, throaty way.

She was able to quickly come up with a set of statements that would hopefully distract it for a time, a compromise among her combating wills. She needed time to lose the will to live again. It was much harder without something to remind her who she was dying for.

“Yes…yes I have” she said. “I am now certain of your superiority. But now I want to know more about it”

“THIS IS A STRANGE REQUEST, BUT I SHALL GRANT IT, SEEING AS THOUGH YOU ARE NOT TO LAST MUCH LONGER, AND COLOSSOID WILL USE ALL OPPORTUNITIES TO REMIND ALL OF THE SUPERIORITY OF COLOSSOID”

She was happy to hear its arrogance was as great as she hoped. Time was bought.

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