The Children of the Indigai
By E.S. Wynn
People think that California is a state built upon beaches, a place all pavement and movie stars, gangs, porn and sunshine. They forget that this is where the gold rush happened, that there are dark places and thick, unchartable woods in California where men like Leonard Lake lick the charred remains of human bodies tainted by pain and leather. They forget about Charles Manson, The Zodiac Killer and the vampire of Sacramento. When they hear the name, California, their minds never cross into the rural pockets where time has gone still and left the patterns of the past relatively unchanged, but even these tiny, forgotten vestiges of a colonial past that lurk on the edges of civilization pale in comparison to the horrors that shiver and spawn in the deeper hills, the dark places between the slopes and canyons where black, viscous, twisted things shift and surge, where the trees and the night are so thick that whole families are taken sometimes in the darkness without a word, a sound, a scream.
There are tales from these tiny, tree-choked mountain towns that itch through the blood like ice when they unfold, tales like those told about the sudden abandonment of Soulsvale, a sleepy little village lost in a stretch of woods crouching thickly beside a long, quiet highway that curves wide off toward Nevada as fast as it can go. There are dark places worn into the fabric of reality within such rural pockets, darkened basements and hidden places, thickets and unseen vistas where the veil between alien realities stretches thin and those of twisted mind and warped heart worship and call forth ageless, nameless things into the glistening blackness. There are tales of the night which speak of cultists beneath the only church in Soulsvale, restless in their darkened basement as they paint naked and rippling flesh with freshly spilled blood, howling and growling the words of impossibly ancient chants, reveling, glutting themselves with the sacrificial flesh of a family of unlucky tourists. Faster and faster the words of their ritual come, until the words are spoken on reflex, the glyphs their lips and tongues tangle through taking on a life of their own in the air around them. Swirling, fiery runes from some unknown tongue flit viciously across the shining borders of dark diagrams, designs drawn from the dreams granted by some unspeakable power and by its will carved into the basement floor, each sigil edged with human bone. Eyes catch movement, hands reach into the haze that burns between realities, meet other hands that reach back, seize fat, rough fingers with shattered grips of edged bone and wet talon.
All at once, the chanting rises to a deafening crescendo, then falls apart in a fiery clap that kills every light with a wind the color of night and indigo. In an instant, the narrow basement fills with bodies, and all gathered know intimately the evil now unleashed, know the surge and wash of pungent flesh that follows, crushing, devouring everything it touches. Through reality’s tattered gateway, the Children of the Indigai surge forth, the eager, angry bodies of twisted flesh and unseeing eyes pulsing in the darkness like wet fire, howling in an inhuman hunger. Bodies slick with thick, otherworldly ichor slide over and through one another in writhing knots of tortured flesh, reveling in the sweat and rot, stirring together in masses, in endless living mountains of orgiastic shadow and blue-grey duskiness. Like leviathans built of swarming, surging bodies, they stretch between this world and the next in a desperate, sinuous haze, rising out of the nothingness in a putrid, quivering birth full of questing hands, questing tongues, the flex of flesh on flesh, muscle and skin surging with quiet, unharnessed potential.
There is a cry among the trees, the shattering of glass and wood as the basement of the hollow, corrupted church where the Indigai find their bubbling birth is consumed with the surge of bodies, of thin and dusky, eyeless children who compose a singular, sexless beast. Gorged on the corpses of thousands caught and slain in unholy rituals by those cultists mad with the sickness of the woods, the Children of the Indigai cry out as one, and the sound chills every soul in the little town that crouches against the ancient church as if for simple warmth in the night. The sound is maddening, a howl which rises and falls with an alien tone that frightens both dog and beast so completely that they stir from broken dreams and hurl themselves away from the town with maddening speed, breaking chains, shattering glass, hammering down doors, gates and fences in their wild escape. But their frantic animal flight does them no good; as the Children of the Indigai swarm through the streets like a tide of liquid putrescence, those who flee become only the first to be devoured.
Moving in rubbery, viscous gouts that pour from the shattered church like the spurts of some unholy fountain and surge thickly into the tiny town, the sea of bodies washes up against the walls of houses like the waves of a pulsing, crawling tide of wet flesh, sliding between trees and moving slick across glass. Doors and windows creak from the press of bodies, the force building as the wash of flat-pressed hands and whispering faces spews on and on into the streets, becoming thicker and thicker, a flood of flesh and flex that eventually overwhelms every tortured door, every cracking window, and surges into every house and store, a tide so quick that those within are swallowed before they can even scream.
By morning, the Children of the Indigai have gone and the town has been left little more than an empty husk of shattered doors and yawning windows. What is left of Soulsvale’s only church now stands alone in the midst of the abandonment like a cracked and broken tooth, stone foundation gaping and ragged, floor a mouth of vicious, edged boards. The forgotten basement hangs wide and dark even in the dawning sun, impossibly deep, with only the scuffing and scratches in the smooth stones lost within the oppressive black to mark the passage of the sea of flesh and the forgotten rituals of the cultists whose chants tore open the walls between dimenses where the Indigai lay in surging knots, waiting and hungry. They say that sometimes at night, when the layers between this world and the next thin on the waning of the moon, the Indigai surge back into the ruins of Soulsvale, wash through every house and abandoned store, slickly shiver up and across trees, walls, searching, hunting.
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E.S. Wynn knows the secrets of rural California. He has seen the things that dart and slither through the deep woods at night. He has heard the call of the Indigai, and watched the sanity drop away around him as the words sink into flesh and trigger ancient memories better left undisturbed.
Labels: Earl S. Wynn