I had apparently spent quite an extended period under the haze that hung above the marsh, clinging to the sky and making all outlines unclear, even obscuring the sun. Once I left the swamp, I found that it clung to the horizon, bathing the sky in oranges and purples. All I was going on was the hope that my friends actually were alive, but I supposed that that was enough as I crawled up the hill on my stomach. That idea quickly led me to reconsider my wearing the twenty-foot vine whip like a sash; the thorns were becoming a literal pain in my sides. Not having any other way to carry it, however, forced me to just soldier on.
"Goddess damned stupid mother flipping cultists taking over my neighborhood," I grumbled as I went. It was rather slow going, but I couldn't see into the community, or even the houses themselves, making a stealth approach a necessity.
Once I reached the base of the wall, I looked back down the hill at the marsh, but could only see a hazy fog, and remembered that I always saw the hazy fog at the bottom of this hill on the rare occasion that I looked down here. Had the plant creature been there all this time, waiting for me?
I shuddered at that thought and took off the vine whip. It had a comfortable weight in my hands, feeling familiar in an impossible way. The closest I had ever come to even holding a whip before was when I carried a length of chain to use in assisting the uprooting of a tree stump almost a year ago. I put some faith into knowing how to use it when the time came.
Right now, however, I just used it as a grappling hook. I whipped a gargoyle at the top of the fifteen-foot wall to be an anchor, and began rope-climbing my way up. I felt like Indiana Jones, and felt my fortitude redouble. I guess there's something about acting like an action hero to make you start believing you are one.
I got to the top and looked over the edge, suddenly remembering how I wound up in the marsh to begin with. The sight of ambulatory shrubs and other such plants shocked me again. I could barely believe my eyes, but after what I had just experienced, it was slightly easier to believe.
Diego's favorite rose bush had literally sprouted legs and I was watching it patrol the grounds. It looked like it was trying to mimic Cliff in the slow, methodical gait in which it moved, which was hysterical. Unless, I thought immediately after, that was Cliff. I unwrapped my whip from around the gargoyle's torso to hop down and landed in a roll, popping back up on my feet.
"Yeah! That's some fuckin' parkour shit right there!" Beaming, I made a bee-line for the small tree line we had separating our house from the neighbors on the right, the Danielsons. They were okay people, not giving us too much grief for our life choices, and I legitimately felt bad that they had become crazy cultists.
I ran to the back door of my house, hoping to make it in and through unnoticed. As I peeked through the double glass doors into the kitchen, I saw the Baxters, from the very front edge of the neighborhood, preparing finger sandwiches. The demon worshippers who attend bake sales and PTA meetings. Fucking bizarre.
I knelt down by the door and waited, hoping that the seemingly lowly soldiers would gripe about the master plan and, in turn, unknowingly reveal it to me, but it never came. They prepared my deli meats and cheeses with dead eyes and total silence. Well, shit.
After another couple of minutes, the Baxters finished their preparations, and brought their silver platter, stacked high with sandwiches of different varieties, out of the kitchen. Their angle suggested they were going to thr front room, causing me to shudder at the idea of geriatric demon summoners holding a meet-up in my living room.
As soon as they were far enough away, I slid open the door. Peering around, the house still looked the same, save for the intricate pattern of vines throughout. It bore an uncanny resemblance to that house in Jumanji either just before or just after the flood scene. I was impressed, but then again, I suppose real-life special effects guys don't necessarily need a budget.
Then I had a thought, which led to probably the most important question since this whole thing began: Would that make me Robin Williams in this scenario? My friends are trapped in some sort of PTA-from-hell game, and even the love of my life is endangered. I guess that makes me the protagonist of this story. My house, my friends, my love.
I sighed. Can't I just flip to the end of this story? I really would like to experience Tilly's warm embrace, to put it delicately. The past, what, week or so, has just been one long nightmare. That's it! Maybe I'm still in a coma in the hospital! No, this is real.
I stopped suddenly, in the middle of the hall from the kitchen to the main room. This is real. Demons, magick, cultists, ultimate evil, plant monsters, all of it. This is all real! My head swam with this realization. I had been on the go and constantly forced to just accept it, but now, with a small reprieve in the action, a moment of clarity. How does this sort of thing just go unnoticed?
By rights, it shouldn't. Then again, it does. If it hadn't been for the fire, I still wouldn't know about it all. I know it has to be connected because of the weird shit that happens when I feel the burning sensation in my forearms. There has to be something to that. That fire...
"Shit," I hissed. I could feel the burning sensation coming on again. "No, no, no, no, no! Not now! Come on, Pacifi, give me some of that orgasmic bliss again!" I squeezed my eyes shut as I continued pleading in hushed tones.
"Come on, I have a mission: to rescue my friends and my love! This can't be happening now!" That seemed to be the magick phrase, as the burning withered down to nothing once again. I breathed a sigh of relief and continued throughout the house. I turned into the main sitting room, and before my brain could register the interior of the room, a boot connected with my chest.