Noctivagants of the Mire
Despite this dreary nimbus, she found in certain abstract, contextually-linked things a sort of sub-enjoyment, as one would in the clearing of a tempestuous rainfall at the hour of their doom as they lie upon their deathbed. These things, mere jokes given a slightly greater depth due to the aforementioned contexts on which they rely for full comedic understanding, were at the time called “memes.” Mackenzie wasn’t fascinated by them, there were many she didn’t fully understand, or hadn’t the knowledge of the subject for which they were made, but for the most part she was at least ephemerally distracted from her dismal existence by them. These, and other similarly trivial things, kept her walking the tight rope of life, though she still looked down, gazing perhaps too curiously at the unseen floor, with perhaps too much disregard for the audience’s subsequent terror, should she lose her footing and be sent plummeting into that grimly welcoming bottom.
On a day not notable for its place in the calendar year, Mackenzie had for equally unimportant reasons made the decision to take another path home from work. The diversion from the walking path that cut through Bryke’s Wood—a collection of trees and brush that only earned the term by a laziness of thought on part of the community—seemed to have been taken merely as a subconscious attempt to alter the tired, disheartening path of her life, in whatever way could be acted upon. Instead of traveling through that diminutive grove, Mackenzie chose to walk through the alleys of a neighborhood that was not known for anything beyond the occasional yard sale. Neither the grove nor the neighborhood were dangerous places, and their proximity to one another led to a welcomed interchange of inhabitants; from the grove, many woodland creatures hopped, trotted, and in their adorable animal way, frolicked about the neighborhood through which Mackenzie’s mind had subtly guided to her enter.
Her home, which rested in the cul-de-sac of a neighborhood north of the one frequented by creature of the nearby wood, was a place of concentration for the darkness in her life. In it, her thoughts—usually self-reflective, and resultantly self-critical—bore down on her psyche, cyclically torturous, emotionally debilitating; awful in all regards and tireless even when she was dead-tired. In that place the demons of Anxiety and Depression reveled in psychological diabolism, stoked flames of Hate and Anguish to burn away Mackenzie’s mental health.
So, maybe the changing of paths was a desperate, unspoken and apparently unknown desire to be led to a different destination altogether. To find a home in a place whose inhuman invaders were merely of a furry variety, and not the shadowy, intangible, maleficent kind that haunted her home and heart. Mackenzie, twenty, 5’7, clothed in simple blue jeans, a gray t-shirt, and a black hoodie whose hood covered her comparably black hair, strode through the alleys of that neighborhood with a hope all but said aloud, lest it be seized by the claws of those evil spirits that skulked about her waking thoughts.
Shortly after entering, she came across a visitor from the nearby wood. A fox, wildly animate and covered in what was plainly blood. From its unusual—well, apparently unusual, for she had never actually seen a fox in person—movements, she surmised that the blood that coated its puffed and orange fur was its own, and soon after spotted a wood that ran from its shoulder to its hindquarter. Jittery, obviously panicked, and whimpering in tone eerily similar to that of a crying child, the fox was in a state of absolute terror and did not seem long for this world. Mackenzie, having still a compassionate heart, immediately intended to help the poor creature, whether it be to salvation at veterinarian hands, or at the pre-death comfort of her own. But at her slow advance the creature retreated, though it did not seem to do so in fear, but as if to draw her towards it, to bring her somewhere. As she inched closer it still moved, and once it felt that she would continue to follow, it turned away and moved faster towards wherever it intended to lead her. Confused, but not entirely considerate of where she was being led, Mackenzie followed the injured animal.
She didn’t realize she had entered the wood until her foot snagged on a vine, and looking around her, she saw the eternally incipient growths kindly designated as trees around her, and the trampled undergrowth through she had crossed countless days before. The fox sat a few feet in front of her, apparently satisfied with the distance they had traveled in concert, and seemed to await some response from her. Though still bloodied and wounded, it no longer showed the behavioral consequences of such, and its mannerisms—twitching of its nose, yawning of its mouth—suggested a condition of boredom rather than debilitation. Mackenzie, confused though not unsettled, spoke to it, for lack of a better action. “Why did you bring me here?” In response, the creature rose, first on its four legs, and then on two, standing in a bipedal fashion akin to the woman it had lured to the forest. “You deviated from this place, today. Your would-be journey would’ve led you to meet a man, and that in that man you would’ve found the compulsions to live, the opportunities to better yourself, and the privileges and luxuries of a life not burdened those who compel me.” Mackenzie, mortified by the anthropomorphization of the creature and the now canceled path of life it portended, responded shrilly, “Who compels you?” The humanoid fox responded by pointing a long-nailed finger, like that of a demon, to the ground and said, “They have many names, most unspeakable by the tongues of men, but I call them Noctivagants of the Mire. And Makenzie, they’ve decided it’s time you join them. Your little venture today convinced them of that. Now, descend.”
At the completion of the fox’s explanation, the ground below Mackenzie changed, transformed from the leaf-canopied and insect-occupied terrain into a yawning lacuna, into which she instantly fell, plunging into an impossible depth, as if time and space and physical order saw fit to avoid this particular void, and Mackenzie plummeted with a speed that seemed to increase through an engine of force that felt like the intentional, hungry drawing of some willed evil, and not the natural exertion of gravity upon an object.
She had no way of confirming this, and no longer possessed control of her body, but she sensed that above at some immeasurable distance the fox—most likely an avatar for some infernal creature—looked down upon her. A vague impression was imparted to her, as if the creature who had sent her to this unending abysm felt for her some semblance of pity. Whether it was for her plunge, or for whatever fate met her at the end of it, should it even end, she could not tell. The exo-cosmic nightmare into which she had been cast was a greater terror than those experienced during the worst of her depressive states, and Mackenzie was driven to a mania of fright that caused her to see forms and suggestions of ineffable things; figures that, if clarified, would be so profane as to drive even the hardiest of men to suicide. She screamed, she wept, she cackled, she wailed primally as her mind destabilized. Without question, Mackenzie had been driven insane in that hellish descent.
After a period of time unfathomable to human minds, Mackenzie’s eyes saw—though her mind did not actually take notice of—massive, sprawling things below her, and after seconds or years, a useless determination, a tiny part of her largely corrupted mind realized the collective will of these things had been the mechanism of her speedy dive. The entities below her spanned an undefined, equally stygian space, and the apparent infinitude of it brought a dreadful clarity to her thoughts; a sobering disquietude. The enormity of these beings was easily perceived, and their morphology—wholly alien to anything dreamt of by the sane minds of men—elicited in Mackenzie a sensation inappropriate to her quickly arriving doom. She laughed, for in these horrors she recognized her nemeses. Anxiety quivered in hungry anticipation, its fat, innumerable limbs throbbing and plopping atop the ebon floor. Depression, infinite-eyed, blinked gleefully as it waddled about, circling the spot where Mackenzie was destined to land. She met its uuncoutable gaze as she fell, and did not wince at the approaching tentacles of Anxiety that shot up at her with intent to snatch her prematurely. She knew these evils, and lacked the will to resist them any longer.
The Mire, endarkened not by the absence of light but by the boundless evil that consumes it, became Mackenzie’s tomb.
CREDIT : Bryce Simmons, aka Cosmic Revenant