Episode 4 - The Shape of Things To Come
That was the last time I saw Clifford "alive" - at his funeral. So like Clifford to leave clean - assure, smile and thus reassure. What a good guy was Clifford. I wish he would appear now. I could use some of his reassurance. I don't know whether I'm frightened or angry. I just want to go home or get answers.
"What do you want to know, Artie"
It was Gregory reading Artie's mind again.
"Greg, where have you been? Why have you left me wandering in this nothingness? Why did you pull me in? Why..."
"Cool it, Artie. You'll know soon enough." Gregory teased.
"Not funny, Greg. This is not funny. Where are my parents? Where's Norma? I've yet to see Clifford. I so want to see him."
"Oh, your precious Clifford. You always liked him better than me." Greg accused.
"I liked him different than you - not better, Greg. He was like my brother. You were my best friend."
"Yes, Gregory. Now be my best friend and get me back home."
"You are home, Artie."
"You know what I mean." Artie raised his voice.
"Whoa there little buddy. All in good time"
This does not sound like Gregory. He looks like Gregory...sort of doesn't look like Greg at the same time. He scares me. I'm scared - really scared. Oh gosh, is he reading my mind?
Artie waits but Gregory gives little indication that he is hearing his thoughts.
Silence - a long silence - Gregory's image hovering slightly above him seems to be wavering - wavering like an object submerged under shallow water.
"Greg please don't leave. You are looking strange. What is going on. Please Greg. You are scaring the living daylights out of me."
Greg filled the void with bombastic laughter - joyless laughter - laughter that wasn't really laughter just sound - loud evil and sickening. Then he vanished and his laughter with him.
Artie felt faint - weak like he would vanish too - disappear - dissolve - become nothing. It was the worst sensation he had ever experienced and he wanted it to stop. But it persisted like a bad toothache - this feeling - a feeling of total helplessness - a loss of self control - a feeling that somehow he was at the mercy of some unknown force some entity that would remain unknown - unknown until he was confronted with its reason - its explanation of what is happening - an explanation Artie wanted desperately to understand but was also afraid - very afraid of knowing. Understanding would only bring him to his final thought - his last breath.
Artie was trembling as he weakly roamed the grey void. He could barely stand and eventually dropped to his knees and then to a crawl. From this miserable crawl Artie was lifted by a gust of air - a whoosh that landed him on his backside, He sat on the floor or whatever it was - a firmness beneath him that allowed him to sit sprawled out with his back leaning on something - an invisible wall? Artie was almost breathless. Was he dying?
Artie limply surveyed the void and was about to give in - give up - close his eyes and just succumb. It was too much effort to hold his eyelids open. For the first time in his life, Artie wanted to die. He was thoroughly exhausted by his own ignorance.
As he lowered his lids ever so slowly, Artie sensed a presence. He peered out from his drooping lids and saw a black shape outlined by a silver light move slowly toward him with definite intent.
Artie wanted to get up and run but, of course, was rendered too weak to move. He thought he wanted to die. Was he ever wrong.............the shape drew nearer and Artie knew for certain - he was never more certain - he did not want to die...........