The first one happened last Friday. I'd just left work, after a day that had gone on far too long. I reached my car, and was starting to unlock the door when something slithered out from under it and sort of swelled up into a naked young man. I have a vague impression of an open jaw and extended fangs, striking down at me from atop an unnaturally long neck. Everything else I know about my attacker (the small, thin build; the mop of unruly black hair; the pale blue eyes; and the fishbelly white skin) I picked up later.
I'd love to tell you that I blocked his attack with a quick bit of judo and hurled him to the ground, but... no. I panicked, and must have tried to hit him, only I was holding my keys and drove the car key into the side of his extended neck, just below the jaw. His head jerked back, and I stumbled away from him. I really don't know whether I hit something vital, but my keys were still in my hand and there was suddenly a lot of blood on his neck. He staggered, and... writhed... and suddenly his neck was shorter, and the fangs were gone. The blood was still flowing, though. I was on my back, but he was the one bleeding - and badly, by the look of it.
He turned and ran, crossing the street at a pace I couldn't have matched even if I had been on my feet. It's a wonder he didn't get run over, but he happened to catch the light just right: everyone was stopped.
I filed a police report. I had to; there had been witnesses. Still... a naked man assaults a pharmacist just as he's leaving a pharmacy? They assumed he was a junky. They told me I was lucky I hadn't been injured, and I agreed. And then I sat in my car until I'd finished shaking, and then I drove home.
To be honest, I'd never set up protections against direct physical assault. If the snake cult attacked me, I assumed they'd use something more esoteric, something that left less physical evidence. As a result, I'd very nearly died.
That wasn't the most disturbing part of the attack, though. The real twist was after I'd parked the car (I have no memory of actually driving home, but I must have managed), and climbed the steps to the apartment. There was a note under the door. It said:
"He should not have been a danger to you. Learn faster. Trust your dreams."
It was, of course, unsigned. I read it three times. Then I burned it.
I didn't like the implication that whatever was going on with my dreams might have... not just effects, but applications here in the mundane world. And for the life of me, I couldn't see any other way to read that. I already suspected that my dreams were doing something to me. Hell, if you've been following along, you know that I've feared that for months, now. Now I had the additional pleasure of knowing that someone out there knew more about what was going on with those dreams than I did, but didn't care to give me a full explanation. Fucking marvelous, that was.
And anyway, no. I'm not going to trust in my dreams to keep me safe from attackers. If my life is in danger, I'm going for solutions that I know will work. So on Saturday I went and bought a gun, and signed us up for a Concealed Carry class. That night I added a new invocation. It wouldn't offer as much protection as I'd really like, but the idea was to buy me some time if something like this happens again.
So that was Friday and Saturday. The class is actually this weekend, but I'm carrying the gun around anyway.
On Sunday, Claire and I went to church. Father Peter wasn't there, and the sermon was centered around the beginning of Advent and the importance of waiting for the arrival (or, in our fallen age, the return) of Jesus Christ. It... actually, it wasn't that bad, despite the unmistakable falsehood of the belief. As an allegory for the human condition, it works pretty well. The congregation is getting used to seeing me around; they don't have that really compulsive curiosity anymore. They're still friendly, but their desire to get to know me isn't anywhere near as claustophobic as it was at first.
The rest of this week went to sorting and packing. I've thrown out a lot of junk, and the rest is either being boxed for storage, or making its way over to Claire's apartment. My lease is up in two weeks; and then we'll have to do this all again, since Claire's lease ends six weeks after that. We'll end up in a larger apartment in my original complex, which suits me fine. The only real obstacle is Hector the Cat, who presents a mess of additional fees (and would cheerfully murder me in his sleep if he could). I'm not sure how we're going to deal with him; I wish Claire hadn't decided to adopt him, but it's too late to worry about that now.
So tonight after work I went to visit Billy and Crystal. Crystal was supposed to be fixing dinner, and I didn't want to miss that - she's a... really, really good cook. So I showed up at their door, and Billy called for me to come in.
I knew immediately that something was wrong. One of them always comes to the door. So I opened the door, but I didn't step inside.
Billy and Crystal were there, of course. So were three other people, two men and one woman, whom I didn't recognize. One of the men was holding a shotgun.
This wasn't a complete surprise. After Friday's attack, I was half-expecting a follow-up: that's what we would have done. So I stepped back, out of the doorway, and heard someone curse inside. There was a window in the front wall; I ducked under it and scuttled for the stairs.
Halfway there, I stopped. I was just at the edge of the window; the front door was still open; and the sounds coming from inside were... not what I expected. There were gunshots, and thuds, enough of them to suggest an antagonistic exchange. I had the gun in my hand, because I had half-expected the snake cult to follow me out. So I turned, and made my way back.
Inside the apartment, the three snake cultists were bleeding out on the floor. Billy and Crystal were still in their chairs, held in place with duct tape. I looked up, and saw one of the twins duck back into Billy and Crystal's bedroom. "Wait!" I called, but he didn't. And naturally, when I got to the bedroom door, nobody was visible inside.
I'd only gotten a brief glance, but I was certain: this was one of the same pair who had killed the snake cultist who was following me on Sixth Street. I wasn't sure where he'd gone - I wasn't even entirely sure that he wasn't still in that room - but I didn't have time to chase him. Billy and Crystal needed help, and I'd feel a lot safer when they were loose. So I grabbed a knife from the kitchen, and cut the tape.
They're sleeping over at our place tonight. I don't know what Claire will say about that - she had her last final today, and was asleep by the time we got back - but it seems safer this way. And if the note was right, and I dream of anything particularly interesting, I'll see if I can post about it tomorrow.
Reflections of a Deranged Cultist is a work of fiction. No rival cultists were murdered in the creation of this post.