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The Storm From Beyond

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The rain battered the window so that I could scarcely see the dim shops and the boardwalk down the beach. I tapped the windowsill uneasily, wondering if the rumors of an impending hurricane were true. I looked left of the boardwalk and watched the palms all sway eastward. Debris tumbled by in the wind.

I took a shaky step back from the window and threw a glance to the dead TV, and suddenly wished that I had listened to the evacuating neighbors this morning. I hugged my arms around myself and tip-toed past the TV, then tried the lightswitch across the room again; it reaffirmed that the power was out. I took one last glimpse out the window behind me and could have sworn that I saw movement past the lead-heavy sheets of rain. I ignored it and left the room toward the stairs.

Still hugging myself, I ran one hand along the rail as I crept upstairs. I had heard that upper stories were dangerous in hurricanes because they were exposed to the brunt of the storm, but I didn't care. I had nothing to lose, so I figured that if this storm proved lethal, I'd like to at least be comfortable in bed when the end came.

I had just reached the top step when the window downstairs shattered. I jumped and froze, then clutched the rail tighter. I listened to the sound of rain, louder with the glass barrier gone. But I heard something else: heavy, slow footsteps and the creaking of wood.

My heart racing, I turned and looked downstairs. Faint light from outside provided a glow. I listened and winced with each falling step, coming nearer. I tried to reason that it was only a branch hitting the house's facade, but that hope was shattered like the window when a shadow appeared in the light at the bottom of the stairs.

My eyes widened, and I ducked into my room across the hall. I was in no way silent, with my own feet pounding the floor as I ran. In my room, I leaped into my bed and hid under the covers. I listened to the storm outside, and the noise of a palm branch scraping my window. The footsteps came again, this time up the stairs.

I shut my eyes tight and tried not to imagine the approaching thing. It struck me as inhuman in some inexplicable way; it was a primal feeling, like an old instinct resurfacing after lying disused for millennia. Its presence was tied to the storm -- I felt it in my throbbing heart.

The steps echoed ever closer, in sync with the storm's escalating roar. They stopped just outside the door, and then paused in silence. I peeked from under the covers in that silence, and watched the door. Moments passed, and then the knob began to slowly turn. The door creaked open, and a lumbering creature, drenched in water, shambled in on withered legs. It halted and appeared to look around the room.

I say "appeared" because it had no visible eyes. Its body was a scaly, shapeless blob terminating in two disturbingly human legs, with a single tendril serving as an arm. A long, toothy lip protruded from the top of its body.

I couldn't tear my eyes from the blubbery creature, even as it looked in my direction and mustered an animalistic grin. Sure as I was that it had seen me, though, the creature turned away and thumped past my bed, emitting popping and gurgling sounds along the way. From beneath the cover, I couldn't see the creature, so I dared to roll slowly to the other side of my bed.

The footsteps ceased again. With a moment's pause, I lifted the covers slowly and was met with the ghastly creature's shuddering maw directly before my face. Awestruck, I was unable to react as its jaws opened to reveal a pair of luminescent, pupil-less eyeballs. At this, I managed to scream at the top of my lungs, and then everything went black and silent.

It may have been moments or hours later that I opened my eyes to radiant light piercing the covers. I began to lift them off of me, but I found that my hands were trembling and my fingers could scarcely budge. I shoved the covers away and squinted in the light, unlike anything I'd ever seen before.

I rose from my bed and nearly fell, but still stumbled my way to the window (the glass broken outward), and then gazed outside into the bright daylight of double suns. What I saw beneath them was glorious to behold -- nothing like the shabby boardwalk of earlier days. Colors new and strange appeared to me, illustrating a vivid collage of existence and nonexistence. Impossible feats of architecture were possible here. What was right side up was up side down, what was dead now lived. The imagined became real.

I saw things that you would never believe; it was a waning glimpse into the otherworldly realm in the eye of the storm from beyond.

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