General Disclaimers: While it features no ‘on-screen’ sexual activity or explicit adult situations, this hypnofetish story does contain examples of adult fictional characters doing illegal, immoral and/or impossible things to other adult fictional characters. If you are under the age of consent in your community, are disturbed by such concepts, or want hot wet thrusting sex in your free on-line pornography, then for goshsakes stop reading now! Permission granted is to re-post to any electronic medium, as long as 1) No one's being charged to view it in any way, shape or form and 2) This disclaimer and e-mail address (firstname.lastname@example.org) are not removed. It would also be nice if you told me you were posting it.
Copyright Voyer, 2004.
Specific disclaimers: This was inspired by Stephen King’s story ‘The Ten O’Clock People’. So thanks to him.
The established morning routine. Toss the paper sack containing the remains of breakfast into the garbage can by the elevator. Tuck the newspaper under one arm and stroll through off through the hallway-maze towards his office, with the ritual pause at the coffee machine to top off his travel mug.
But then, a small break from tradition: usually the coffee was good, but this morning, it was clearly too hot. Stan’s cubicle was positioned nearby, so while the coffee cooled a little he wandered over and stuck his head through the ‘door’, coffee in one hand, briefcase in the other.
The thin man inside looked away from his computer screen and flashed a quick smile with one corner of his mouth before going to back to his typing.
Peter craned his neck to look into the next cubicle. The desk there stood empty, all the piles of paper neatly stacked, the computer screen dark.
“Paula not here yet?”
“She had some errands to run or something. I think she said she’d be in late.”
Peter nodded absently, gently sloshed the coffee back and forth a little.
“Catch the game last night? Harnachek was in rare form.”
“Just saw the end of it. Lori drug me to the opera again.”
“Ouch.” Peter winced in mock sympathy. “Is that little minx still scheming to turn you into a gentleman of culture and refinement, is she?”
“Yup. But I’m going to go down swinging.”
“We’re all pulling for you, man.” Peter gave him a salute with the mug.
“You still... um...” Stan waved a hand vaguely... “...over the prison wall yourself? Baching it?”
“Yes. Shelly won’t be back until the 23rd. The kids are still at camp. All on my ownsome.” He remembered. “Say, speaking of kids... only a couple more months for you and Lori, isn’t it?”
“Three more. We’re both counting the days.”
“You’d better. Remember, it’s all uphill from here. Enjoy those nights at the opera while you can.”
Peter gave another salute and moved on. Stan twitched another smile and turned back to his work.
Peter’s office, and his secretary. Getting back with tradition, Toni was already there. She had been out on vacation all last week, but now she was back and looking the same as always. Tall and black and vibrant.
Like Stan before her, she looked up. Unlike Stan, she flashed a full very white smile.
“Morning, Mr. Bossman.” The name had been their private joke for some time now. Toni answered his phone for him and typed up his reports, but she was quite definitely her own woman.
“So, how was the trip? You and Oliver have a good time?”
“Had a great time, thanks.”
“Glad to hear it. Say...” He realized there was something different here as well. “That’s a new blouse, isn’t it?”
“Yes! Thanks for noticing.”
He thought it was ugly and unflattering, but he pushed the thought aside.
“Got it on the trip? No, tell me all about it at lunch. Gotta hit the books right now. Anything else important?”
“Nope. Oh. You had that meeting this afternoon with the folks from Panworthy, but they called and canceled it. Said they’d reschedule.”
“OK. Thanks. Good to have you back.”
Peter went on into his office and closed the door behind him.
Only then did it occur to him that there had been one other difference; Toni usually had her radio tuned to the local public jazz station; even with the door closed the sound of it trickled into his office. Which was fine with him; while not nearly the aficionado that Toni was, he enjoyed the music well enough.
Today the radio had been silent.
He shrugged. At least everything on this side of the door was the same. He deposited the travel mug on the large orange and blue Frankencoaster that Kyle had hammered together in art class, put the briefcase and the newspaper in their usual places and hung up his jacket. He pulled open the blinds with a yank, and looked down over the view from his third floor perch. A nice enough morning, with only a few clouds scattered here and there. He was idly surprised to see some kind of silvery blimp hovering off towards downtown, just behind the cluster of skyscrapers that marked the city’s center. On the street, the usual flow of morning traffic, along with the familiar collection of cars in the parking lot, including his own trusty econobox.
As he turned away, he noted a large truck lumbering slowly past, painted and ugly gray with an striking black logo on the side. It was in serious need of a tune-up and was spewing exhaust. One much like it had cut him off as he had been driving in..
He settled in behind his desk, and as he always did, brushed his fingers across the photo of Shelly and the kids, inside its wooden frame. The kids were still away at camp, and Shelly had gone to visit her folks back east, which was why he had stopped to pick up breakfast at the House of the Greaseburger on the way to work. Baching it, as Stan had put it.
Maybe he touched the photo just a little longer than normal.
He sniffed, and tapped his fingers on the desktop. Instead of the usual sterility, there was odd acrid odor floating about. The coffee?
He glanced at the newspaper. He had only had time to snatch it from the box on his way out the door and for the first time truly noted the main headline: QUAKE RATTLES DETROIT. Earthquakes in Detroit? He frowned. There seemed to have been a lot of earthquakes back east lately. Nothing serious, evidently, but still...
He made a mental note to do some more websurfing about it when he got home that night. (The company had gotten really snippy about personal Internet use.) In the meantime, he had work to do, and he fired up his computer. After a moment the desktop wallpaper that Alice had made for him appeared, a picture of her imaginary friend “Mr. Rooty”. The tiger grinned out at him and waved, as benign and jaunty as ever in his striped bow tie and bright-green spectacles. (Just two circles painted around his eyes; Alice was a pretty talented artist for her age, but even a proud father had to admit that she had a ways to go yet...) Peter smiled back and got to work, hiding Rooty behind rows and columns of black figures.. Since Yankovich had been bought out by that new conglomerate, their account had been nothing but trouble, not just for him but for people all over the region. He had heard all of the horror stories making the rounds, and he had been trying without success to get the big brass to ditch the account before it pulled them in any deeper. He sighed as he worked, and fielded a couple of quick phone calls, both about rescheduling the afternoon’s meeting. The second call got cut off due to some kind of technical snafu.
Perhaps half an hour later, the intercom buzzed. Peter half-extracted himself from the figures and fingered the appropriate button without even looking at it.
“Mr. Royce.” Uh oh. Toni never called him by his real last name unless... “There’s a man here to see you.”
“Oh? Who is it?”
The smell was stronger now.
“A Mr. Hiram. He doesn’t have an appointment, but I think you should talk to him.”
“Uh...OK.” She had always shown good judgment about such things. “Send him in, Toni.”
He released the button and leaned back in his chair, carefully assuming the ‘neutral’ posture which he reserved for such meetings. Even as he did this, for some reason, his fingers automatically reached out and curled around the antique silver letter-opener that lay waiting on his desk. A family heirloom kept almost entirely for sentimental reasons, since everyone used e-mail anymore...
The door swung open and the man came into the room. The door swung shut behind him.
Tom started to speak:
“Mr. Hiram, is it? What can I...” He trailed off. Something was wrong. Horribly wrong.
The man seemed normal enough, wearing a charcoal-gray three-piece suit, cut in the latest style. Gold watch chains had recently come back into vogue, and one crossed his chest. He carried a neatly furled umbrella as many people did in this rainy and changeable city. Yes, he seemed normal enough, if you just glanced at him, but if you looked, really looked...
He was too tall, and too thin inside his suit, his arms and legs like pipes. He had only a few whisps of hair, crawling across the bulging contours of his skull like a tangle of dead tree roots. His skin was gray, an unsettlingly tasteful match for the suit he wore, and...
He smiled. He smiled, and the gesture split his mouth too far apart, showing not teeth but instead a matched set of bumpy ridges. More gray.
And his eyes...
Definitely no gray there...
“Good morning, Mr. Royce. Or may I call you Peter?” In contrast to his appearance, his voice was deep and mellow and well-tuned, the voice of a highly-paid radio announcer. It was a piece by Mozart, performed expertly by corpses in a decayed crypt.
“What the hell are you?” Peter stared, falling back into his chair, clutching tighter at the letter-opener. The thing’s smile didn’t waver.
“Straight down to cases, then. Good.” He... it... came ambulating forward, and leaned over the desk. It made a showy flick with a long multi-jointed hand, and a piece of cardboard was there, blindingly white between two gloved fingers. “My card.”
Despite himself, Peter took the card with his free hand, then tore his gaze away from the other just long enough to read what was printed on the thing he held in his hand. Clearly a name, and a job description.
Under the words was a symbol, etched sharply in very black ink, a hole down into endless depths.
It was the same thing that had been painted on the side of the truck.
Peter’s eyes came back up, and the Horror smiled even wider. Pieces somehow clicked into place.
“The earthquakes. Back east. That was you.”
“Yes.” It flicked a finger at the newspaper, which ruffled slightly, then began to decay in spreading black blotches. “Detroit just went over to us during the night.”
“We’ve come up, Peter. Clawed and bit and scratched our way up at long last, after far too long, to claim forever what is rightfully ours. The sunlight. The surface. The stars. You.”
The card crumpled unnoticed under Peter’s grip. Hiram continued.
“It’s all been easy, quite quite easy.” He lolled his head to one side and spoke, not raising his voice. “Toni. Come in here. Now.” On the last word, Toni’s radio blared on, not playing jazz, but a throbbing howl, up and down, endless. It both prickled and soothed. Peter’s computer died with a anguished squeal, Mr Rooty vaninishing into darkness. The lights flickered. Again the door blew open, and Toni, Toni who wouldn’t even make Peter a cup of coffee, she came crawling into the room, her movements jerky like the thing which had summoned her. Her eyes were wide and...
There was no one word for the emotion there. Lust. Addiction. Panicked serenity. She came to a halt beside the Horror and gazed up at it. She leaned her head against its leg. Peter felt his breakfast sandwich rise up from his stomach, and took a vast effort to push it back down.
Because something was happening to the thing’s clothes, sprouting tendrils of gray, chains of purest gold. The things wrapped themselves around Toni’s head, crawling thickly like maggots among the curls of her kinky hair, swallowing her, pushing open her mouth and sliding down her throat. She did not struggle, and in a moment only her eyes were visible, their expression unchanged. Again the sandwich rose.
“You see, Peter? Most people up here are like my dear Toni. Not seeing, not noticing, until it’s too late. Far too late. Unlike you.”
“You are one of the rare ones among your kind, Peter. You notice things. You are awake. You are fully aware. And you could just possibly sound the alarm. If we were to let you.”
Something prompted Peter to spin around in his chair, and look out the window again.
The blimp he had noticed earlier. It had come around to this side of the skyscrapers. It floated up in the air, but it wasn’t a blimp. Not even close. It circled among the buildings, brushing against them, leaving stains and blemishes... which were spreading..
And tattooed on its side...
“So you and the few others like you in each city we come to have to be dealt with. Taken care of.”
“And how do you plan to do that?” He could just see the street from his chair. Another of the ‘trucks’ went past, spewing something out into the air. Not exhaust at all. And no one was paying any attention...
“There are ways.” It wasn’t Hiram’s voice that said this.
Peter turned back around.
Shelly was standing in the doorway now, her straight blonde-brown hair hanging in messy tangles around her mud-smeared face.
“There are so many ways, my dearest darling.”
“Shelly! But you’re...”
Still smiling, Shelly spread her arms, and her clothes started to twist and squirm, like the Horror’s. Something peeped through in flashes on her chest, implanted just above her breasts, glowing, glowing like
the Horror’s eyes
“So many ways.” Shelly stepped into the room. She wasn’t alone. Paula was back from her... errand... just like Toni was back from her... vacation.
Poor old Oliver...
And not just them, but Shelly’s mother, and other women from the office, from his neighborhood. They came in, all of them.
Toni was released from the thing’s physical grip, the strands sliding out of her with a sickening slurping sound. Her head wobbled a little, then she joined the other women, crawling over the desk, her new blouse swirling and rotten.
“After we take care of you, Peter, they promised us. We get to go down. Pulled down into the darkness. Down drowning forever and ever AND EVER...”
The lights went out.
The window shattered behind him, and he screamed. He lunged at the Horror, even as the opener fizzed and melted away in his hand, even as the women swarmed over him.
They took care of him.
For the next thirty-four years, they all took very good care of him.
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