Several things to remark on this week. I'll start with the mundane ones, and go from there.
Two weeks ago, I mentioned that Claire had gotten a cat. I didn't remark on it last week. That's because we'd spent most of the previous week at my place. Hector - that's the cat - is... well, let me put it this way: I've conjured creatures less random, malicious, and incomprehensible than he is. He remains hostile no matter what I do. He snarls at me when I come to the apartment, and stalks me when I come inside. If he gets close enough, he claws or bites at me... and let me tell you, that's a hell of a surprise when you're sitting on the couch in the middle of a movie. Claire has to put him in a cage if I'm sleeping over.
I've tried to be friendly with the animal, I really have. I've filled his food dish. I've offered him treats. I've tried to pet him. Nothing works. I can't get through the outer layer of hostility long enough to convince him that I'm friendly.
Over in my own apartment, I've been trying to sort out the things I can put into storage. In the process, I've been throwing a lot of things out. I thought I had a fairly Spartan lifestyle, but possessions have a way of sneaking up on you. I hadn't realized just how much crap I'd accumulated until I started looking at my stuff in terms of just which things I'd actually pay to keep. This is, of course, part of the process of getting a single apartment with Claire. I just hope Hector survives the transition.
It's not a bad practice, though, in case things go badly. On Thursday - right after I finished my post about Anna's visit and said that we weren't at war with the snake cult - Kelly died in his sleep. Apparently there was an adder in his bed, and he rolled over on it. Nobody thinks this was a coincidence. So, yes: we're at war with the snake cult.
This sort of war is a tricky thing. Nobody knows for certain what the other side really knows, let alone what they're capable of. I'm fairly certain that the snake cult felt completely safe in sending the big guy to spy on me at work, and to follow us on Sixth street... and look what happened to him. We don't know what happened to him; the only way they could know anything is if the twins were rogue members of their own cult, which isn't bloody likely.
I'm in no condition for this. I'm in no condition for work, really, but I'm managing - barely. The world has acquired a halo.
No, that doesn't adequately describe the problem. Everything in the world has acquired a halo. Any discreet object has a shimmering, silver glow around it. It messes with the shadows, and plays merry hell with my depth perception. I can navigate, but it's as if everything has gone out of focus. I keep misjudging distances: I knock things over, drop things that I meant to grab, run into things that I thought I was walking past.
And all this because of two things: I finally completed the ritual that the Thing In The Well suggested, and I had the dream again.
I'm tempted to leave it there, but I suppose a little more explanation is in order. Back when I visited the Thing In The Well, it listened to my description of the dream and suggested a ritual. It didn't say what it would do, or why it thought that ritual might help. So I took my time in assembling the necessary elements - and some of them were astronomical, so delays were unavoidable - and only managed to finish the thing this week.
And on Sunday, I dreamed my way back into the hexagonal canyons. It was... I don't know, strangely familiar, and stronger than I remembered. I reached out to a small bit of nearby mist, and absorbed it immediately. Some timeless time after that, I saw the great black cloud descending upon us. I felt the same overwhelming fear of being devoured, but when it reached for me... It was as though our appetites were reversed. I pulled it in, absorbed it, and devoured it. I took only a tiny piece of that flowing darkness, but the rest of the cloud drew back from around me.
Then it was gone. I thought it had retreated back up the valley, but that was only a fleeting impression. A moment later I was gone from that world. I sank into more regular dreams, and only remembered that one because of the curious flicker of dark mist around my face when I looked in the mirror the next morning. But ever since then, everything has its own misty halo.