Never Have Colourful Outfits Heralded A Hivemind Incursion
By Mr. Scade
Chapter 10: Irrational Fears of a Landmark Type
Falling through dark alleys. Half-formed images, and half-remembered events passing by like dust in the air. To one side there were the thoughts he had thought throughout his life, to the other were the memories he had forgotten; to the front he could see the things he still remembered; and to the back... he couldn’t look to the back without screaming in either pain or fear. Bor kept falling, yet he didn’t feel his body being pulled towards something below. He simply fell, in his mind, through the windows that led into memories. Trapped he was, pushed into a state of reminiscence by a foreign power, pushed down towards a shapeless mass of happiness. It didn’t fill him with dread, didn’t fill him with desire. He barely understood what was happening, that the faces and places he was enjoying as if he was watching a television set were his own ideas.
He fell, for a year or for a minute, the darkness of the walls gaining colour, becoming bright and intoxicating. Windows into past memories gave way to doors into present events: A queen standing at the top of a hill, dark clouds massing, an atmosphere of joy... he saw them, and the dark walls turned into red, and then orange, and then blue, and then something he couldn’t give a name to. Colours appeared, drowning his thoughts, and Bor felt good. He dared a look down, a look at the mass of power in its eye, and then he felt incredible.
Bor started to desire what was ahead of him, the terrifying dread.
He woke startled.
Wet... water... he woke, and the first words that came to his mind were that of water falling on him. His vision blurred, he blinked twice, and could see again. Bor saw the dark sky, the black of depression, throwing its thirst quencher upon the world. Rain, Bor thought, feeling the tiny drops hit his body. He blinked again, realising rain was falling on his eyes and on something that felt like a good meal after sex. Bor moved his head and looked around: the park, empty save for his two friends standing at attention close-by; the queen on the top of the hill, commanding her minions and siblings with both thought and voice; rodents looking for shelter in the undergrowth; and the archway.
The thought hit him like a landslide. The archway. He felt his heart hammer faster, felt his hands sweat—or was it the rain?—felt his mouth go dry. Bor felt like himself, remembered how childhood stories and games had made him terrified of the landmark... and immediately regretted thinking them. His eyes wide, he looked around; Lore and Amanda were oblivious of his mental heresy. Strange. They were staring up at Cosette, at the queen and mother of haigure, their legs parted and their lips smiling, and were completely oblivious to the ideas coursing through Bor’s mind.
No bliss, no desire... I don’t feel lust or wonder. Bor thought, looking back at the archway. Again the tendrils of fear gripped at his toes, and again his heart began to beat faster. He moved, moved a high-heeled shoe and felt the accursed leotard kiss his skin. It felt good, yet not earth-shattering good, not orgasmic, not blissful. And then he realised it.
I am... free? He moved again, twisting to one side and felt a tiny, tiny, tiny spark of desire as the latex leotard caressed his back. No... not free, never free. Just momentarily disconnected. He looked at Lore and Amanda again, smiled at their bliss and for a second wished to join them. He chastised himself. I have to hurry.
Maybe he moved fast, maybe he moved slowly, or maybe he didn’t move at all. Bor couldn’t tell time, couldn’t tell if his body was obeying him—the power of haigure was still in him, messing with his thoughts. He could think his own thoughts, free of the corruption of haigure, free of any inclination towards wanting to pose and crouch. He was his own again and he had a mission to fulfil. But to do so he had to move, to run, to walk, to crawl—to do whatever he could to reach the archway and rid himself of haigure for good.
So he walked, or ran, or simply thought he walked.
Mud moved in between his toes and Bor realised he had discarded the heeled shoes somewhere. He kept walking, mud sucking at his feet, rain cooling him down. The archway moved closer, his thoughts slowed down, his arousal grew and fell as if it was riding a bike up and down hills. Every step felt better than the last, every step made his leotard rub him in such delicious ways. But the sound of his heart, the sound of his mouth going dry, the sound of a voice telling him to turn around and run (a childish voice he had not heard in over ten years); all of those voices made it difficult for him to notice the foreign and merry tones trying to sneak into his head.
He was focused, set on reaching the archway; and thus didn’t notice that with every step and rub of leotard he both grew closer to the archway and to haigure. Irony: for a stronger haigure would mean a stronger defeat when faced with Bor’s phobias.
Bor? He heard in his head, and then in his ears. He dared turn around and saw his friends walking towards him. His eyes went wide and he kept going, slowly, as Lore and Amanda tried to walk with their heels in the mud. Bor had done the smart thing to get rid of the shoes, even though he didn’t recall doing so. Then he felt it, like a ramming fist to the back of his head. He fell down to his knees as a thousand voices rushed into his consciousness. Darkness receded; multi-coloured light flooded the halls of memory, burning so bright that he was blind to see the windows into his own mind. Haigure was in his mind, turning everything into shiny, colourful joy. It was intoxicating, disgusting, and it felt like a thousand Christmas mornings.
Hands wrapped around his shoulder and neck. Bor jumped and ran, kicking and fighting against the hand-shaped tendrils of corrupting colour, the weapons of a hivemind. He failed. His hands twitched, his breath caught in his throat, his thoughts slowed down to a crawl, and Lore and Amanda pinned him down against the muddy ground. They held his arms around his back, a knee on the small of his back, a body wrapped around his legs. Bor could feel their latex garments over his, touches that made his manhood throb painfully. They giggled happily, the only emotion they could show in an undisturbed state, and pushed him harder against the ground. Rain spattered his head, and the taste of mud filled his mouth.
He felt miserable, yet his body was so pumped with endorphins and happy hormones that he was on a high, a true high. Unnatural joy.
“Oh, Bor, why do you fight us so?” Lore’s voice kissed his neck. “Why do you fight haigure? Don’t you see how wonderful it is to be part of the collective?”
“Yes, Bor.” Amanda said, her breath licking at his legs. “Don’t you know that the more you struggle the stronger haigure becomes?”
“It is like... teaching us, really. You struggle, we are kept at bay, then we find how to circumvent the struggle. Your struggle makes us stronger, Bor.”
Makes sense. Bor thought, trying as best as he could to twist to a side.
“Of course it makes sense, Bor!” Lore said and he froze.
They could hear him think again—they were in his head. He wasn’t safe. Bor couldn’t think of any plans, couldn’t fight them if they knew what he was thinking or planning. He struggled more and started to hear his queen’s voice. No... no! She’s not a queen. Not my queen!
“Say, Bor, why did you run this way?” Lore asked, stroking his wet hair. “Your backpack was thrown towards the other side! You could’ve run for the butterflies.”
A thought sparked through his mind. They didn’t know. His heart was still beating hard, fast, terrified. Bor twisted more, and more, and then started to trash wildly. Lore and Amanda held to him, trying to keep him in place. He was rubbing his leotard against everything and it felt as if he would orgasm soon, but he kept struggling. After a while he started to tire, yet he found new strength. A voice screamed in the collective, a voice just added, a voice filled with hate soon to be consumed by happiness. Jo’s voice cut through all other voices and reached Bor’s mind. He began to trash again.
Lore and Amanda struggled, as if they were trying to pacify a crocodile or keep an eel in place. They grabbed his hand, he twisted to the other side; they kept his leg pinned down and his foot would crash into their backs. But eventually they could keep him in place by sacrificing any chance they had at standing or moving. The three friends were entwined into a ball; Bor with one hand to the side, another under him, and his legs twisted; Amanda trapped between his legs, her own keeping one of his arms down; Lore keeping his legs in place and his head down.
The tangle of human skin and arousal stirred, reacting to each other’s thoughts. Lore and Amanda embraced the touch, enjoying it as kids would, finding only one thing to complain about and it was that they couldn’t dance the haigure like this. Bor fought, even when he felt weak and defeated. Too tired to move his body, Bor fought in the last place he could: his mind. He kept haigure at bay, the core corruption of the colourful tendrils, with only his weakening will. How long could he keep it up? How long till he would grow weary and allow one tendril to slip through? Only one whisper of haigure was enough to corrupt a person; how little would it take to corrupt a person who already had one foot in the latex grave?
The rain kept falling, turning puddles into lakes; streams into rivers. The drops fell upon the thousand bodies of haigure converts all over town, each lick of water similar to a loving kiss. Had their minds not been connected and stronger, they would’ve succumbed to the extreme onslaught of pleasure. The human mind was wonderful, but there was just so much it could take before it broke down, even if an Elder God had made it strong. But, as dangerous as it was for the rain to touch their bodies, it was helping Cosette spread her twisted dream. The more pleasure haigure felt, the stronger it would be. If only Bor would see that.
“What were you thinking, Bor? Why would you try to escape us?” Lore caressed his back with the back of her hand, care in her voice. “Oh, love, you know I loved you, right? I’ve always fancied you, Bor. From afar and, when we moved in together, from nearby. But you were blind, and I was shy. But with haigure? Oh, with the power we have we can be one, share each other in a unique way. It will be wonderful.” Lore breathed in Bor’s scent, her hand caressing. “You know this now, love, don’t you?”
Bor didn’t need to answer or nod. Lore knew that his answer was yes just as he realized it.
Lore smiled, a smile different than the permanent one she had, one that conveyed different emotions. “So, Bor, if you know we love you, what are your thoughts?”
Bor couldn’t stop himself. He had fancied Lore, once, long ago, but it had been a fleeting fancy. Nothing more. Yet, now that his mind was connected to so many he could feel the love and desire of others. The love and desire towards Lore. He shared their thoughts, and those thoughts corrupted his. He was, against all logic, starting to feel for Lore. His answer was apparent, and reluctant.
“Then why were you trying to run away from us, Bor?”
Bor groaned, strained, and reached. His hand reached and pointed, moved as best as it could, reaching towards the one thing he had dreaded since he was a child. His hand reached in answer, to his liberator and tormentor, as if begging for a coin.
He thought his answer.
Lore and Amanda looked in the direction, curious.
Amanda shrieked, her hands on her head, her eyes shut close. She began to twist from side to side, as if trying to quench flames on her back. The sounds she was making were not human. Lore froze in place, all of her being simply stopped working for a moment, and then she fell head first to the side. Lore curled up and began to shake, silently. The two girls were in pain, in shock, scared and astounded. They had been pulled away from something wonderful and the trauma was... strong. If anyone could remember their birth, they would say it was a similar trauma.
Bor groaned as he pulled himself up. His legs hurt, his head pounded, his mouth was dry, and he could feel his heart thumping in his chest and on the cuts he had suffered over his legs; they were like tiny hearts, thumping in unison. He was groggy and a bit disoriented, but free. He was free.
He looked around him, feeling... sad, empty, wrong. He had been one with haigure, one with endless bliss, however brief. It was something that could not be shrugged off. Even if he had resisted all the way, and the corruption had not been complete, it had left a sliver of haigure inside him. Now, without the thousands of voices in his head, without the drug that was haigure, he felt an empty withdrawal, sickening and destructive. Perhaps the power of Arathmica was so great that even if you were victorious, losing it left you feeling defeated. Or perhaps it was just the corruptive influence of haigure itself. Whatever it was it made Bor feel lonely and cold inside.
Lore and Amanda’s screaming subsided and Bor looked at them with bored eyes. He was tired and well past caring; he had run, screamed, feared, machinated, been corrupted and he had shattered his connection to an Elder God. Right now he only wanted to be over with the whole thing, nothing more, nothing else.
He left his friends in their fetal positions and started to wobble his way down the slope, away from the archway. He was in a stupor, walking without really thinking where to, but going where he needed. He slipped on a puddle of rainwater, his leotard turning brown with mud. He stood and kept walking. A thousand voices were whispering, moaning, and singing. Their happy chanting drowning the sound of rain and the elements. Bor moved through a hedge, the branches scratching his wet skin but barely breaking the leotard he was forced to wear. Even if the colour was dulled, and it felt as if somebody had wrapped a plastic bag around you, it kept its supernatural integrity. Bor wished the branches were razor sharp so he would be rid of the leotard. He didn’t linger on the thought for long; there were more pressing matters.
Across the bushes Bor saw the source of the chanting: a conglomeration of colours. A hundred or more converts were massed around Cosette, leaving a wide circle. Seen from Bor’s perspective it looked like a giant ring made of breathing rainbows. It would’ve been a beautiful sight, to someone not familiar with what had been going on. To Bor... it was horrifying. He didn’t see a mass of people worshipping a goddess, no, what he saw was a wall, a massive wall. He had to get to Cosette but with so many people around her, he wouldn’t last more than a second there. The moment he walked up to them, they would detect his severance from haigure and swarm him. Besides, what could he do when he didn’t have the butterflies?
Bor’s eyes grew wide and he looked from side to side, looking. He had dropped them somewhere, but where? He closed his eyes, hard, and began to smack his forehead. Where did I drop them? He looked back to the archway, realising just how far he had walked. And Cosette had moved too; she had not been over by the football fields when he had passed out. Then, where had she been? Bor had to remember. He looked about the park; had he stood by the big sentinel tree? No. What about the picnic tables? No. Where had he stood!? Bor pounded at his temple, trying to remember, trying to spot his backpack; but in the rain and the darkness he couldn’t see anything.
A flicker of lightning and the world was brightened for a second. What was that? The wind picked up and a second flash of lighting turned the world white. Had Bor seen his backpack? He wasn’t sure. A third flash and this time Bor was sure he had seen his backpack. It is! He started to jog towards where the bag had been thrown, but he didn’t take more than two steps before he came crashing to the muddy floor, a hand wrapped around his ankle.
Quickly he turned around, expecting to see Lore or Amanda, but seeing an unknown face. Who is this? He thought, and then he realised it.
“No, no, no!” Bor started kicking at the man’s face, breaking his lips and teeth. The man didn’t let go, didn’t so much as look away. He was drunk on bliss, too happy to feel pain. The man took the hits as a kid took to videogames: eager and hopeful. Bor began to panic, the stupor finally leaving him. He pulled back slightly, feeling the man’s grip tightening. He was strong. But strength alone didn’t really matter. Bor pulled his right leg fast and hard to the side, surprising the man, and pulling away from his fingers. Before the man could recuperate, Bor gave him a strong kick to the side of the head with his left foot. The man stopped moving. Quickly Bor crawled to his feet. He had to move fast; if this man had found him, then there were more coming out to get him, hell, the whole hivemind now knew where he was and were likely to be rushing to stop him. And they had seen what he could do, they would be better prepared to take him on, and now they will not underestimate him. He had to move, now!
Bor started to run to where he had seen the bag but... but he had lost sight of it again. Thick darkness had swallowed the bag and, for the first time, Bor realised that the lampposts were not alight. Impossible! Those turn on automatically at nightfall... The air shivered cold, the wind danced like an epileptic trying to mimic salsa moves. This is not night, this is not a natural darkness. Bor thought, feeling afraid; he was fighting against an Elder God.
He looked around, waiting for lightning to flash, but nothing came. The storm was dying, and Bor was left in the darkness of a happy god.
In less than a minute he was swarmed. There were too many for him to fight, not even if primordial rage and fury fuelled his blows. How could you hurt someone who felt no pain? Eventually he grew tired, the adrenaline high subsiding and leaving him in a rag doll state.
The converts hauled him inside the concentration of the hivemind, hands reaching out to touch his leotard. Bor tried to shy away from as many as he could, but there were too many. The voices were chanting, over and over, a cacophony, a melody, a grim song. It drilled into his mind.
Soon enough the blessing of wet ground was upon him. He fell with a thud, hurting his shoulder. The pain was a blessed distraction from the voices. With the last raindrops of the unnatural storm kissing his face, Bor dared look up. His eyes ran the length of her legs and finally found the perpetually happy eyes.
“Cosette.” Bor hissed.
“Oh, don’t be like that.” The queen in orange teased, her smile beautiful. “I know you fancied us, your Queen.” She crouched and ran a finger down his cheek, prompting Bor to pull away. Cosette giggled. “Oh, look at you. Acting so mighty and powerful but you have already fallen, Bor, haven’t you? You were corrupted once and, as you may feel it, haigure cannot be severed from you. It holds tight, however small the grip. You may not be one with haigure, but you’re still part of our kingdom.”
Suddenly Bor was pulled upwards by a pair of strong hands. He flinched in pain, his shoulder stabbing his nervous system. Good, Bor thought. Pain will make it difficult to be converted. He didn’t know if pain would be as successful against haigure as fear was, but holding a weapon was better than having none. Bor cherished the pain.
The slender hands kept him upright, holding his arms behind his back. There was a pair of thick arms around his waist, and others around his legs. He wasn’t going anywhere.
Cosette straightened, orange leotard perfectly hugging her figure. “We know what you were planning, Mister Rodriguez.” Cosette began, a pair of fingers moving over Bor’s leotard. “And we have allowed you to run around, spreading your influence. Break someone free here, then another one there. Your guerrilla warfare would never work against the glory of haigure; so we allowed you to do so.”
Bor stared at her with unemotional eyes. She thought he was creating a guerrilla? He couldn’t help but feel happy at that. She had got her plan wrong, but how could that be? Alejandra had known, unless the secondary conversion had somehow confused her thoughts. Whatever the case, it meant that Bor still had something to hope for—Cosette didn’t know his true plan.
“As you have seen,” Cosette continued. “Fear can indeed sever you from haigure, but it cannot free you from it. Haigure is powerful, perpetual... insidious. It will stay with you and grow, and grow, and grow!” She threw her arms into the air and whispered Arathmica’s name. Many joined in. “That is what makes it so wonderful; it will always spread and corrupt more, growing stronger. Oh, how do we love haigure.” A collective moan ensued and Bor could see Cosette grinding her legs together. He would’ve felt aroused, but he was concentrating on feeling as much pain from his shoulder as he could.
Silence befell and Cosette slowly turned to look into his eyes. “You have lost, Bor.” Her voice was cold.
Bor didn’t look away; he kept staring into her eyes, fighting all the way.
Her hand reached, pressing against his chest. He felt its warmth through the latex, and pondered twisting and biting a finger off. Cosette’s fingers danced and Bor’s world turned colourful. His knees buckled, his eyes rolled into their sockets, his hands unclenched, and the pain from his shoulder disappeared. Had he not been supported by others he would’ve fallen down and haigured.
At a radius of four inches around Cosette’s hand Bor’s leotard had recovered its colour, turning bright and perfect. The sensation was powerful, like pleasure itself. Cosette grinned and Bor began to pant.
She removed her hand, and the leotard turned dull again.
“Bring them in.” She said, turning to look at a wall of people.
Bor, panting, not quite thinking, turned to look at the commotion. Lore and Amanda and some people he didn’t know were thrown at Cosette’s feet. His friends were starting to wake up. At least they won’t realise it. He thought with sad graveness; he had liked, and once you liked haigure it would grow on you. They were done.
The realisation felt liberating, actually. Since breaking free he had felt sluggish, lonely, and so close to being defeated; but now that he had actually lost, he felt happy. Was it his own happiness or the one forced upon him? Did it really matter?
Cosette was in front of him, her orange perfection crying out for his attention. “Any last free words before you join the glory of haigure, Bor?”
Time seemed to stop still. The rain had stopped, the wind died down. The crowd around him were like specks of dust; always there, but never attracting attention. Was this how people felt before they died? The world slowing down, a second turning into a lifetime. He closed his eyes, took a deep breath. Cosette’s hand was upon his chest, and he opened his eyes.
A flutter of wings.
A flutter of wings...
He couldn’t contain his victorious grin.
Cosette raised an eyebrow. “Why are you grinning so, Bor? Finally realised how wonderful it will be to join us?”
Bor shook his head. “No.”
Her hand began to get warmer. “Then what is it?”
If he could, he would’ve stayed in that moment for a lifetime. “A butterfly.”
The hivemind shook.
Cosette tensed. Her eyes widened. Her voice caught in her throat. Her body stopped. Her heart echoed, thump, thump, thump, like the beating of a drum. All sound seemed to stop, all noise ceased, and the only thing that Lore, Bor, Amanda and anyone connected in the hivemind was the speeding beat of the bloody drum. Thump, thump, thump.
Lore felt it, heard it. It woke her. It was in her head, in her body; she could feel Cosette’s heart beating faster and faster, could feel the dry and cold feeling of time standing still as realization crashed upon her. She wasn’t one with haigure, but the connection still existed. The thundering in Cosette’s chest, the feeling of dread, was such that Lore could hear it as if they were thunder that followed a near-by lightning strike.
And then Cosette screamed.
And then the town screamed.
And then Lore realized she was in pain, and she screamed.
The sky grew darker, turning the dark of night, clouds rolling onto themselves. The wind picked up, and then died, and then turned into a tempest, and then died. People screamed and moaned in terror, in pain. The very earth seemed to shiver.
Cosette was swatting at the butterflies, the many that had landed upon her. There were more fluttering around the mass of bodies, prompting screaming whenever they touched someone, and then flying away startled. She was ranting, rambling, with two voices. Hers overlapping a terrible sound, so dreadful that hearing it without the filter that a human throat gave would’ve driven anyone insane.
Lore dared look, dared stare at Cosette.
It was terrible.
A thundering voice echoed, terrible, and horribly happy. It followed Cosette’s rambling, her terrified rambling. She spoke, and the voice spoke after. And then Cosette started to shine. Her leotard turned brighter, a glowing orange light that blinded the world.
Lore shielded her eyes, but it wasn’t enough. She had to look away and, as she did so, she started to feel the reality forced upon her breaking apart. Her leotard finally stopped feeling good, her mind finally stopped hearing stray and foreign thoughts, her body finally stopped yearning for haigure.
It was done—haigure was finished.
Bor walked around the unconscious bodies. He was happy, ecstatic, glad. They had won! And he had survived the whole encounter with his mind intact. He pulled at the leotard, straining his muscles until the material ripped apart. It could be destroyed. It could be destroyed!
“YES!” He screamed to the wind.
Somewhere a body shuffled. Bor turned around, shielding his eyes from the dying rays of the sun. It was dusk, the sky was clear, and Cosette was nowhere to be seen. Good, he didn’t want to deal with her.
Someone was rising from underneath the bodies of former converts, and it took Bor a while to recognize her as Jo. Bor frowned inquisitively, and then realised that it had been her. But how? He thought as he heard Lore rise. She wobbled on her feet and Bor had to catch her lest she fell. His shoulder cried.
He looked at Amanda, who was still fast asleep—a blessing, hopefully.
“Did you see what... happened?” Lore’s voice was a whisper. She looked at the ripped latex from his sleeve and then at her own crimson and brown leotard. Somehow she couldn’t summon the energy to do rip it apart.
Bor shook his head, watching Jo waving at him. He waved back. “I saw... I don’t know what I saw.” He sighed. “She started glowing, and speaking in many voices, and it hurt so much to be close to her and then... and then...” He shook his head.
Lore stared at his face and thought of it no more. Whatever Bor had seen was better left alone. She turned her attention towards the two girls walking up to them. Her brow furrowed in thought. Had they...?
“Hey, Bor!” Jo cried, smiling broadly. “We did it!” Her arms were in the air. “We fucking won!’
Behind her, a girl, whom Lore couldn’t help but find attractive, looked longingly around her. Her name is Aizan. Lore thought, sighing. She knew the name of a stranger she had never met and that made her feel wrong. Of course, it was to be expected; haigure had been too great to not leave its scars. They would have to wait to see if they were truly over and done with haigure.
Lore shivered at the thought.
Bor smiled, warmly. “How did you do it?”
Jo smiled. How could she smile after everything they had gone through? “Luck, I guess.”
“But you were converted... I felt it.” Bor twisted his mouth. It seemed he was back to his old self, questioning everything. Or maybe it was his way of dealing with the shock.
Jo nodded. Aizan looked guilty. Sick, Lore thought. “Well, I was converted and almost lost myself into... that thing.” She began, her smile disappearing. “But the very conversion my sister here was using,” She pointed at her sister. “was using was one thing I had always loathed and been terrified of. It broke the connection and I quickly pushed her into a rubbish pile.”
“I hate garbage and... you never know what sort of worms are hiding in there.” Aizan said, shivering and hissing to herself.
Bor nodded. “Well, that worked for us but... how did you free the butterflies?”
The girl with the mattered hair winked at Bor, a gesture that made Lore uncomfortable. She turned around to look at the park. “I snuck into the crowd, as simple as that.”
Bor shuffled in place. “But... they wouldn’t... okay, fuck it. I don’t care. You snuck in with the bag, is that it?”
Jo nodded, turning her head to look at Bor. “And then freed the butterflies.”
“And then you freed the butterflies.” He sighed.
“And us.” Lore interjected.
Jo and Aizan and Bor turned to look at her.
“She dared break into enemy lines to destroy haigure... she was the one who ultimately freed us.” Lore smiled warmly. “Thank you.”
Silence fell and the sun settled.
“Now what?” Aizan said after a while.
“I guess we continue with our lives.” Bor said.
They all nodded.
“Come on, Lore, let’s get Amanda home. I rather be home than face this many people panicking when they realise where they are.”