Out of the be-fucking-lue, everything gets substantially darker. Not pitch black mind you. Not even power failure black. More like a cloud passing over the sun. Make that a storm. Though there is no storm. No clouds. It’s a bright day and anyway I’m inside. I wish that had been all. Just a slight decrease in illumination and a little breathing difficulty. Could still blame that on a blow fuse or some aberrant drug related flashback. But then my nostrils flare with the scent of something bitter & foul, something inhuman, reeking with so much rot & years, telling me in the language of nausea that I’m not alone.
Something’s behind me. Of course, I deny it. It’s impossible to deny. I wanna puke.
To get a better idea try this: focus on these words, and whatever you do don’t let your eyes wander past the perimeter of this page. Now the side, maybe even in front of you, but right where you can’t see it, something is quietly closing in on you, so quiet in fact you can only hear it as silence. Find those pockets without sound. That’s where it is. Right at this moment. But don’t look. Keep your eyes here. Now take a deep breath. Go ahead take an even deeper one. Only this time as you start to exhale try to imagine how fast it will happen, with its teeth or are they nails?, don’t worry, that particular detail doesn’t matter, because before you have time to even process that you should be moving, you should be running, you should at the very least be flinging up your arms— you sure as hell should be getting rid of this book—you won’t have time to even scream.
Don’t look. I didn’t.
Of course I looked. I looked so fucking fast I should of ended up wearing one of those neck braces for whiplash. My hands had gone all clammy. My face was burning up. Who knows how much adrenaline had just been dumped into my system. Before I turned, it felt exactly as if in fact I had turned and at that instant caught sight of some tremendous beast crouched off in the shadows, muscles a twitch from firing its great mass forward, ragged claws slowly extending, digging into the linoleum, even as its eyes are dilating, beyond the point of reason, completely obliterating the iris, and by that widening fire, the glowing furnace of witness, a camera lucida, with me in silhouette, like some silly Hand shadow twitching about upside down, is that right?, or am I getting confused?, either way registering at last the sign it must have been waiting for: my own recognition of exactly what has been awaiting me all along— except that when I finally do turn, jerking around like the scared-shitless shit-for-brains I am, I discover only a deserted corridor, or was it merely a recently deserted corridor?, this thing, whatever it had been, obviously beyond the grasp of my imagination or for that matter my emotions, having departed into alcoves of darkness, seeping into corners & floors, cracks & outlets, gone even to the walls. Lights now normal. The smell history. Though my fingers still tremble and I’ve yet to stop choking on large irregular gulps of air, as I keep spinning around like a stupid top spinning around on top of nothing, nothing anywhere. I actually thought I was going to fall, and then just as abruptly as I’d been possessed by this fear, it left me and I fell back into control.
- Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves