Goodnight

I had spent many years trying to forget about my loss.

The world was making sense again, I was finding purpose and making my way back to what life was once before.

I had gotten a new job doing what I loved and found a new person, Reba, with whom I could share my life. After a year or so of being together we decided to move in together.

The apartment was small but charming. It was elegantly furnished and the price was quite reasonable. The building itself was old and had a reputation for both being a great place to live, if you got the right apartments, or being a difficult place to bear life in if you got the wrong ones.

We got what was supposed to be one of the good ones. At least, that’s what the realtor told us.

About a week in, things began to gradually manifest. Odd, barely noticeable things; small objects of importance getting misplaced and then turning up in strange places, places where they had no business being found in. Later, the little things were not quite so little any more.

We had bought a small dog, a black Daschund, as the building was pet-friendly. Reba thought it would be good for me to have something I could be responsible for while also serving as therapy of sorts. Ebon, we christened the pup. Ebon turned out to be a trembling bundle of energy and excitement. By the time we moved in, she was already about 6 months old and quite the handful.

When we started really noticing the issues it was because of Ebon. She would seem to interact with the empty air itself, just as she would interact with Reba or me. It was quite unsettling, but it did not appear to be an issue as no harm was being done. That, however, did not last long.

Things began to take a turn for the bizarre when objects like cutlery and dishes would fly across a room, often hitting Reba or Ebon. Whatever was living there with us – by then I was sure this was a conscious, sentient entity – was either trying to hurt them or simply being excessively mean.

This entity would interact with me differently, however. It would never try to hurt me, but whenever it manifested itself in my presence alone it would do things like gently move objects or pull lightly on my long hair. I did not understand it at first.

As the weeks went by, it appeared to be gaining strength. It manifested itself with increasing frequency and with a boldness that it did not have when we had first moved in.

It would bite Reba and scratch her. Often, after going out, we would return to find Reba’s clothes strewn about the house.  Pictures of her would often fall, as though being knocked over.

But its attentions were far worse for Ebon, as the entity began to tease and hurt the dog more and more. This distressed me greatly as I had really become attached to the pup.

Things were really getting out of hand and we were considering moving out. We had thought of finding a priest or some other religiously ordained person to come and purge the place, but had found no one willing to do so. So instead we put in a bid for one of the bona fide good apartments in the building. We were put on a list and waited patiently, bearing the manifestations as best as we could.

It was about 3 months into our stay in the apartment that we got the news; a neighbor on the same floor was leaving the country and her apartment was ours if we wanted it. Reba and I held each other in relief upon hearing the news. I nearly wept with joy.

That very night things would change forever, though.

I took a nightly shower and found that the entity was with me, as she often was when I showered. It began to play with the water stream and move the bottles of shampoo around. I tried to pay it no mind but my head began to feel heavy, as though I was in a dream. It felt similar to an episode of sleep paralysis, where I was aware of everything going on around me but was unable to move. I finally manage to move but only terribly slowly, as if gravity had increased its pull on me. I took a towel and got out of the bathroom.

I went to the kitchen where both Reba and Ebon were and I told Reba that we had to go, that we had to leave right at that very moment.

It was at this point that it began to attack Ebon. It first started to push the pup as it walked and then began to pull and pinch its hide, making it whine audibly. At this, I picked the dog up and hugged her close to my chest. I decided I had had enough of this and began to yell at the entity. I did not care what it could do to me; I just wanted it to stop.

And then I heard it. I didn’t trust my ears at first and stood there, dog in my arms and towel around my waist, my eyes wide with shock.

It said Goodnight.

It wasn’t what it said, though, but how it said it. No. It was who said it that left me cold.

The voice was that of my daughter. The little baby girl I had lost in an accident seven years before. She had been a little over a year old, riding in the back of her mother’s car, my wife. They had been hit by a truck whose driver had fallen asleep on the wheel and been pushed off a bridge. They both died.

When she was still alive, I would put my daughter Lila to bed every night and every time I would take her to her room’s window, with the lights off completely, and would recite a litany saying good night to the world.

Good night moon.

Good night stars.

Good night trees.

She would say good night with me every time, her eyes so wide looking out into the world that once held a future for her. Her voice so soft and sweet as only a little baby girl could have.

It was that voice that spoke to me then, and I lost all resolve.

A moment later after the realization was made, through an eternity of memories rushing through my head, I felt warmth within me which I had never felt before. I smelled my daughter, this phantom scent overtaking me, and I wept tears of joy and sorrow.

I put the dog down and Reba stared at me, she was trying to make sense of what was happening.

She could not hear my darling Lila, though. She simply couldn’t.

I tried to explain, she wanted to leave, said it wasn’t healthy, that this couldn’t be Lila.

This tore us apart.

She moved out; I stayed.

It has been a year since she left me and, while I miss her, I cannot be sad for I have my daughter back.

It had taken me five years to cope with the loss of her and now I had her back. Reba couldn’t understand.

I have spent this time interacting with Lila in any way I can. I tell her stories. She is with me every day and every night. We look out the window in the living room with the lights off and we recite the little litany.

Good night world.

She is my joy returned.

In this time of thought, joy and reflection I have come to the conclusion that my time here is done. I have no need for the world any longer and have no reason left to remain.

Whoever may find this, please do not discard what you read here as mere fancy. Please let Reba know that I love her and hope to see her again, some day. I miss Ebon, too.

Good night Lila.

Good night Ebon.

Good night life.

I am happy.

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What’s a-crackin’?

This job has gone to soil, thought Jim to himself. Whatever possessed me to take this position? He asked of himself, wearily.
The depths were always calming. The area known as the Mariana Trench to the species at the top of the food chain in this tiny planet was relatively devoid of noise. Jim liked that. He was taking a break from his shift and, as he had habitually done for the past century or so, recalled the halcyon days of early internship. Of course, back then the pay was as basic as it could get without it being indentured slavery, but the hours and the location had been prime, he mused.
Jim held a disc-shaped metal object in one of his colossal tentacles, applying elongated tools that resembled tweezers and a screwdriver – if tweezers and screwdrivers came in sizes battleship and aircraft carrier – with two other tentacles.
When the position as head of his own project was offered to him, Jim could not believe his luck. That he, a veritable neophyte at Yggdartillau Multiversal, would be considered for such a prestigious position was beyond his wildest dreams. Of course, as it usually happens, when things are too good to be true it is precisely because they are. Jim’s freshman naiveté got the best of him then and he simply did not bother to scrutinize the offer.
Things sure had changed around here in the past few orbital centicycles around Sol. It had been countless millicycles since the reptiles and the oh-so-savoury, decently sized fish that swam the oceans had been terminated, courtesy of the Board’s inane decisions. We have decided to introduce a new series of bioforms and it is imperative that the climate and atmosphere be adjusted for the introduction thereof. He thought that maybe these new bioforms would be tasty, at least. Well, they are tasty… just not large enough to do more than tickle his palate. And so the megafauna was phased out in favor of the apes.
It wasn’t bad enough that the planet itself was a virtual ghetto, but this entire bubbleverse provided little by way of significant or even pleasant interaction or stimuli. Nevermind that he was stranded with no means of transport off of this backwards quadrant, but he was directed to disturb the bioforms of the surface as little as possible. Screw that! He thought to himself, triumphantly, as the disc-shaped object began to propel itself through the water, white lights shining powerfully, as it ascended to the surface. Jim wondered with some pleasure if this one of his toys would cause enough of a commotion for the balding apes.
The project had been filled with such promise when he first got to the primordially oozing planet. The weather had been nice, the oceans quite warm owing to the constant tectonic activity.
He wistfully recalled that some of his colleagues had even displayed friendly jealousy at his seemingly good fortune. His very own project, calling all the shots, getting things done and making a difference for the Elder Ones… all a sham, really. It began to dawn on him, the realization that perhaps things were not quite so fortunate for him, when he realized that he was the only cephalopod considered for the task. That never happened to him, being singled out. Not for anything good, anyways. Of course, by then it was already too late. He was already secured – rather trapped! – in the meteoric seed that would deploy him to the project’s site. Plainly put, Jim had been hornswaggled.
Well, the apes proliferated, alright! They damn near collapsed the ecosystem several times in the past 2 centicycles. Despite his utter contempt for the project, Jim did not want to burn any bridges. Letting the project fail before official termination could spell a disaster for his career.
The tiny planet had become a terribly boring and obnoxious place, though. Especially after many of the land-dwelling species had been metabolically engineered to produce more greenhouse gasses – what the Board intended with that asinine decision was beyond him. So the once pleasant-smelling blue ball was now a cesspool planet. Thankfully, he thought, his sense of smell was quickly deteriorating to the point that he would likely lose it completely within the next centicycle.
The Board is full of morons and buffoons, Jim would tell himself, fanning his own rage until he would thrash in the oceanic depths. His gargantuan tentacles sending the world’s currents into a frenzy. Every centicycle or so, they would send him a directive ordering the termination of the project, but the manner in which it was to be done was always so slow! Jim would begin the process as specified and, about a quarter into it, a new directive would come halting and reversing the process. How he hated that! Every. Single. Time. The apes would go crazy every time this took place, of course. They had enough sentience by now to realize something might be pulling the strings of their planet’s nature and figure out that they might not be long for existence. The bald apes were dysfunctional enough by themselves, as it were. They may not even need a push and the Board could shove their directives up the excretory orifice of their choosing.
And then there was the noise; all this sonar noise going around, making everything screwy. His headaches were increasing and Jim was sure that the bumbling apes were to blame. But at least they mostly minded their own business. Save for a few excursions, which Jim easily avoided by mimicking the rocks in the basin, the balding apes hardly ever came around. He did enjoy messing with their heads, so now and then he would simply move quickly from under a submarine that likely thought they were near the floor only to find out quite suddenly that several thousand feet of floor depth had disappeared from underneath. He enjoyed hearing the panicked radio chatter. But the balding apes appeared more preoccupied with exploring the little rocky planets in the Sol system. If only they knew how positively drab this entire bubbleverse was.
There were other intelligent species. Well, intelligent was a very generous term where this planet was concerned. The little cetaceans, dolphins, they were all punks and vandals. Much smarter than the apes, though. They would do nothing but call Jim names and copulate around him, making fun of his loneliness. Not that he had ever been much with the ladies back home. He sighed with longing every time he thought of the females. It had been such a long time since, well… Jim even thought he saw one now and then, but he knew that it was just likely pareidolia.
He had requested that assistants be sent, he had asked the Board, claiming he could not keep track of all the processes any longer by himself. This was not true, of course, but he hoped they would send a pretty female nonetheless. In the remote closeness Jim thought intimacy would eventually flow. It would be inevitable. But no, the Board always denied his petitions. All of them.
Some of the larger cetaceans, the white, flat-headed ones, would often try to gang up on him and bombard him with sonar blasts. The blasts did little to Jim, but would cause migraine headaches later. He would eat the foolish cetaceans, though they didn’t taste all that good. He didn’t understand why the larger cephalopods in this planet would try to eat them. Speaking of the little runts, all cephalopods here were evolutionary retrogrades. They couldn’t even speak! The larger ones liked to play, but they were more like cute, stupid pets than actual company or special little brothers that your family only lets out when going to commune with the Elder Ones because how boorish of them to discriminate and aren’t we all made in their image and whatnot.
How he longed for the days when life was good and he would go guzzle down libations with his mates and try but fail miserably to woo some fetching female. Jim even missed his mother, of all cephalopods!
Well, he was certainly growing tired and wondering if the Board would ever actually terminate the project. He wondered – more playfully at first, but increasingly more seriously over time – if he would ever get desperate enough to destroy the project. It would mean suicide, of course. Jim had no way of getting out of this bubbleverse, let alone the planet, without the Board’s mercy. Perhaps he would. Perhaps he might not care enough anymore. He would make quite the spectacle for the surface-dwellers! Perhaps, he could set the little world on fire…