From the personal journal of Dalton Deschain
October 14, 1944
I remember EVERYTHING.
Oh God, I remember it all. The two months I blacked out, the unspeakable things I did, the person I turned into…no, no that’s not right. The person that was inside me.
This is quite possibly my last entry. IT is still weak, still learning my body, so I was able to get control back for a moment...but IT won't let it happen again. I know this sounds crazy, honestly, and it is highly likely that I have merely lost my mind altogether. So please, if you're reading this, you have to help. Take this as a confession, and CALL THE POLICE. Have them find me and lock me up, or else the horrors I describe below WILL happen again.
It started with a dream I had last night. At first, it seemed identical to the recurring nightmare I've been having all year. I'm riding in the backseat of my parents' car as they drive along a deserted highway. The sky is lit up a bright, fiery orange, and we're surrounded by red desert in all directions. A sedan delivery drives directly in front of us, painted a glittering, blinding gold. Miles past it, a mushroom cloud blooms on the horizon, stretching its stem higher and higher into the diseased atmosphere.
I realize that we're speeding towards the explosion, and I begin to feel anxious. At this point in the dream, I suddenly have that sense of deja vu you can get during recurring dreams, where I know exactly what is about to happen, and I'm horrified, yet I can't do anything to change course. I exert all of my willpower to try to wake up, or at least stop my dream self from speaking so as to avoid the nightmarish visions that are coming, but it’s all useless. And so, as if a doll with a string being pulled on my back, I hear myself whisper fearfully, "Mother, I'm scared."
Without turning around, her head perfectly still, my mother replies in an unnatural monotone, "It's alright. Just keep your eyes on the golden van, dear."
I begin to panic as the deja vu gets stronger, and I realize that these are not my parents. It dawns on me, as it does every time, that I have been taken by something wearing my parents’ skin, and the sight of the back of their still, unmoving heads begins to feel like needles on my flesh. And I wonder, why should I keep my eyes on the delivery?
I turn to peer out the window to my left, and my mother’s voice flatly reminds me, “Just keep your eyes on the golden van, dear.” I don’t obey. I keep looking out the window, until I see something growing closer on the side of the road. It’s a gnarled, burnt tree, and I begin to weep as I see my real parents’ bodies hanging limp from its branches.
Through my sobs, I yell, “WHO ARE YOU?”
They slowly creak their heads around and I become paralyzed. Their faces are not the faces of my mother and father, but rather grotesque demonoids inhabiting their bodies.
The one that wears my father's sport coat has hollow eye sockets that ooze a black tarry substance down over paper-white skin. Its lips have been ripped off, leaving bloody tissue pulled back around a mouth of rotting teeth. Its forehead has been cracked open straight down the middle, and as I watch, a tiny three-toed claw reaches suddenly out of the blackness and rests on the edge of the bloody opening. As I look closer, I can see the gleam of sharp teeth reflecting from inside the dark cavern of its skull.
The beast in the passenger seat wears my mother's favorite floral print dress. It too has no eyes, but extending out of its sockets are two six-inch tentacles, swollen and strained, bruised a deep purple. They flop wetly and frantically around its face, smacking its cheeks and forehead. The tentacles’ purple membranes stretch with each impact and look as if they may burst at any time. The creature’s skin is cracked and bleeding porcelain, and while it still has its lips intact, they are shredded from the pointed teeth which gnash inside its jaws.
Now, this is the point where I usually awake screaming, to find my sheets soaked through with sweat. I’ve been having this dream since April, although in recent weeks it has become increasingly common. Every time I know what I’m going to see when the creatures turn around, and yet every time I yell for them to look at me. Every time I’m too frozen to look away or close my eyes, and every time I see their bodies on that tree. And every morning it happens I wake up, I call my mom, I have a mug of tea, and I move on with my life. But last night was different.
Last night the demons turned to face me once again, and I closed my eyes, waiting to jolt upright in my own bed. But instead of waking up, I kept feeling the vibration of the car on the rough road, and kept hearing the distant rumble of the explosion in the distance. I squeezed my eyes shut tighter and prayed for it to end.
With my eyes still shut, I felt the car roll to a stop. I gripped the seat beneath me and started to breathe heavily, terrified of what was coming next. For all the horrors I had seen, at least I had seen them before. I couldn’t imagine what new horrors waited for me in this extension.
After sitting still for what felt like forever, my curiosity got the better of me, and I opened my eyes. My demon-mother was inches from my face, close enough to obscure all other sights, gnashing her bloody teeth close enough to splatter its blood into my mouth. As the salty taste hit my tongue, I screamed. The tentacles reaching out of her eyeholes suddenly elongated and shot forward into my open mouth. I could feel their warmth crawling down my throat as I began to choke.
I squeezed my eyes shut, tears pouring down my face, praying to wake, praying for death, praying for anything that would stop the feeling of its alien limbs stretching inside my chest. As it hit my stomach, I felt a sudden pull, and the shock of it opened my eyes wide.
I was suddenly floating in a vast, dark, endless expanse. The mother-demon was gone, and my throat was empty. I felt an intense vertigo as my mind tried to make sense of what it was seeing. All around me, stretching out in all directions for eternity, was a dense network of the same purple tentacles, only these ones stretched out for as far as I could see, and many were as wide as a city block. Some in the distance appeared even larger.
I instantly felt disoriented and dizzy. I was unable to get any bearings at all in this expanse. There was no up or down, no ground beneath my feet, nowhere to go…it felt…well, it felt like I was going mad.
To my right a smaller tentacle stretched just out of arm’s reach. As I stared at it, I realized that the outside of the skin was translucent, stretched taut and thin like the ones in the demon’s eyes, and through it I could see a human being trapped inside.
“Hey!” I called. “Hey, you!” I kicked my legs frantically and found that I could make swimming motions to move around. I paddled over to the tentacle and peered through its flesh.
Upon closer inspection I could see that the man was naked, and he was also moving, sliding slowly through the tube to God-knows-where. He was being carried along by a network of razor-thin needles that lined the inside the tentacle like villi. They pierced his flesh, inserted themselves about 6 inches, then seemed to suck out some sort of black matter from inside his body and disperse it into the tentacle. The needle then helped push him downward towards more needles, stretching onward inside the tube. The man’s face had a scream of pain frozen on it, and to my absolute horror I realized that he was still alive. Tears streamed down his face, and as I pressed my ear to the outside, I could just barely hear his screams, hoarse, desperate, and irregular. Screams of torture.
I felt my body rock with a spasm of horror, and I kicked myself away from the tube. I began to panic, and my mind spiraled. What if I wasn’t dreaming? What if this is real? No…no…this is just a nightmare…or I’ve lost my mind. Perhaps I’ve lost my mind?
Then, in the distance…a spot of motion. A speck at the limit of my vision, slowly getting bigger. I peered at it in apprehension, wondering what horror approached me now. It moved impossibly fast, and within seconds I could see what it was: a new tentacle, speeding directly for me.
I screamed soundlessly and tried swimming away, but it was no use. The thing was upon me, and it thrust itself through my back into the center of my spine. I was immobile. I tried peering over my shoulder, and saw a pitch black liquid pouring through the tentacle towards me. I braced myself as the poison hit my back. I felt it seep into my body, coating my lungs and stomach with what felt like battery acid.
As the feeling spread through my arms, legs, and up to my neck, I heard an ancient voice that seemed to come from within my own chest say, “I AM THE ÆTERNAL.”
I awoke. And at first, I remembered none of it. I didn’t wake up screaming, my skin was not soaked in sweat, and I had no lingering feeling of fear or discomfort. Although, I did find it wasn’t just the dream I had forgotten, but momentarily the events of the last few days. It took a few minutes for me to remember why I was waking up on a hay bale in a circus tent. Then the memories came back, of meeting Bobby and Casey the Dogman, of Bobby offering me a place to stay…although I found I couldn’t remember the specifics of the meeting. I no longer found thesetypes of lapses strange, however, as they have been common since the blackouts started. I went about my day.
Later in the afternoon I stood on the edge of the lot, dragging enormous bags of elephant food to the tents. In the distance, a car drove by, the warm autumn sun reflecting off of its waxy exterior…glittering…like the sedan in my…
Suddenly the entirety of my previous night’s dreams came rushing back and I staggered on my feet. I remembered the explosion, the demon faces, the tentacles rushing down my throat, the tortured man in the tube…and the poison, filling me up until the dream spat me out. And those final words: “I am the Æternal.”
But the memories didn’t stop with the dream. It was like a dam had burst in my head, and suddenly memories began flowing back of the times I had lost, filling in the spaces where I had blacked out, sometimes for days at a time. Some of it was inconsequential: Driving in the dark in April, sitting motionless at my dinner table for three hours in May, getting up to walk around my block at 4am in June. But these were memories of actions, not intent. I tried to remember what I was thinking during these bizarre happenings…but there was nothing.
At least, nothing at first. In the early days of the blackouts, it seems my mind was blank. My body moved by reflex only, an automaton with no purpose. But as the blackouts progressed, I could remember not necessarily cohesive thoughts, but primal emotions…fear, confusion, disgust. It was like my mind had been replaced with that of a frightened child, unable to make sense of the strange world around it. Flashes of imagery as well…mostly of the pulsing purple tubes from my dream. Have I been having that dream for months? Or was something else inhabiting my body during these blackouts, and were these images of tentacles its own memories?
I should pause and clarify again that I know that this is an insane leap to make. To the reader, it may appear that I have only had a series of nightmares, but I cannot impress upon you enough how real this all is. It only occurred to me that something else had been controlling my body because that’s the way the memories felt: as if they didn’t belong to me, as if I was watching someone else with my face perform these actions. So call it madness, call it split personalities, call it what you will…but for me this is all very real.
Which brings me to the two-month blackout I experienced between August and October. Listen well, reader, and present this to the authorities as quickly as you can, for what I am about to tell you is a true confession of murder.
If you read earlier entries in this journal, you will see that on August 12 of this year, 1944, I played a terribly depressing show at a bar in Pontiac, Michigan. I finished writing the entry shortly before my set time. When I was finished playing I sat down at the bar, and another blackout occurred. Before this afternoon’s revelations, my next memory had been waking up two months later in a field outside Traveling Tutons’ Circus.
But in this newfound memory, I watch myself sit at that bar motionless. I watch the bartender that I had been shyly flirting with come over and ask me if I’m okay, and I do not respond. A couple of the teenagers from the band that had played before stumble over, laughing and roughhousing. “C’mon, fathead, you owe me another drink!,” says the larger of the two, and shoves the smaller one backwards. The kid trips on a barstool and falls onto me, and suddenly I’m struck by the most intense flash of rage I have ever experienced in my life. The memory clouds over in white as my body whips around, grabbing the kid by the shoulders and throwing him into the pool table. I stand looking over him as his friend helps him up. “Hey sir, no problem here. We’re killer-diller, just heading out. No cause for trouble.”
I watch them exit the bar, my body trembling with rage. The bartender yells from behind me, “Hey! That’s enough, I want you gone with the wind, buddy. Get out of here!”
I cock my head to the side in response.
“NOW!” she yells.
I begin walking slowly towards the door. I pass the pool tables where the teenagers had been playing, the balls lying abandoned and still on the felt, like the remains of an ancient monument. My eyes rest on the 1 ball, a dull gold boulder at rest near the corner pocket. I pause. I pick it up. I feel its weight in my hand, and squeeze its smooth hard exterior, as if I had never felt anything like it before. A single word floats into my mind. ‘Gold.’
I walk out into the humid late-summer night air, and my eyes scan around me, looking for the kids. I hear an echo of laughter bounce around the street, and begin pacing quickly up the block towards the source.
A block away I see the two kids. Apparently the rest of the band has gone home, and it’s just these two left, smoking and laughing against the bare brick of an enormous school building. My vision clouds again, and now I’m SPRINTING, running towards them silently with the billiard ball clutched in my fist. One of them looks up and sees me coming. He puts his hands up in front of him and says, “Hey, wait—“
It’s too late. I reach him and without hesitating slam the heavy plastic ball into his jaw. He staggers back into the brick as my arm swings back round and plows him in the face again, shoving his nose into his skull as a guttural scream chokes out of his throat.
His friend is trying to scream for help but his breath keeps hitching in his chest. He turns to run, but I swing the ball down in a high arc straight into his crown. He collapses on the ground, but I pick him up by his collar and prop him up against the wall next to his friend.
A curious thing happens next. As I pound the life out of their bodies, I notice that the streetlight is creating a grotesquely misshapen silhouette of this gruesome act onto the wall next to us. In this bizarre shadow-play, their loose-hanging jaws create the impression of an elongated snout pointed downwards from their skulls, like a dog’s downturned face dripping saliva onto the ground. I stare at this image, fascinated, as I continue to pummel them. For the first time in any of the blackouts, I watch my face smile.
When the act is done, I let them fall to the sidewalk, and I calmly walk away. Over the next two months, I simply wander, walking the highways and backroads. I never stop to sleep. For food I catch rats in the alleys and eat them alive (the memory of this alone would have been enough to have me vomiting in the haybales, if the murder scene hadn’t already brought me to it). And all the while, thoughts begin to finally emerge. A new consciousness starts to develop within my body, and it is from the thoughts of this consciousness that I am finally able to piece together what it is that's happening to me.
First of all, I have learned through its visions that there are other…worlds, outside of our own. And I don’t mean other planets, or solar systems…but worlds that parallel our own, but that differ in subtle but meaningful ways. An infinite collection of them, all attached to one of the arms of this being that presents itself in our language as the Æternal.
My body has been, for lack of a better word, possessed by the Æternal. It is a god-like being that exists outside of our world, outside of even the furthest reaches of space, an infinite being comprised of an endless network of tentacles that pierce into endless worlds, at various points in those worlds’ histories, infecting individuals that then become its Eternal Feeders. These Feeders become vessels for the Æternal, tied to it forever, through infinite reincarnations, always doomed to become its slave and hunt down its food while under its control.
The Æternal doesn't have a word for what it feeds on, but it seems to me as if it's some form of our souls. Anyone the Feeder makes physical contact with becomes bound to the Æternal, and when they die, their souls will be used to feed it forevermore. They will never find peace, never move on to whatever afterlife there is. They will be trapped in its pocket world in eternal anguish, its soul being used to feed the monstrous being. I believe this is the fate of the man I saw in the tube, being pierced endlessly by the needles, sucking some black matter (his soul?) from his very core.
These visions alone are enough to drive me insane, and I pray to anything and everything that that is what has happened. Because I believe...I believe that I am its Feeder in our world. I believe that in the coming days, my consciousness will be removed from my body, and the Æternal will take over, making contact with as many people as possible to create food for itself. And it will very likely kill many of them, so that it doesn't have to wait for their deaths to obtain nourishment.
It breaks my mind to think that I have damned those teenagers to an eternity of torture and isolation. I would pray for death, but I know that that would only start the process over. I am bound to this Hell forevermore. No, my only hope now is madness. That this exists only in my head, and that such a creature could never exist in our universe or any others. But my hopes are not high.
So please, if you find this, DO NOT seek me out. Turn this over to the authorities, and have them apprehend me. But warn them, DO NOT TOUCH ME! I know it may seem like the ravings of a lunatic, but if there is any chance that I am right about this, a single touch will be all it takes to damn you for eternity.
This is my last entry in this journal. While the death of Mr. Robell has bought the circus some time here (and what of Mr. Robell's murder? Surely it was at my hand, but these memories are still blocked off to me. Another sign of the Æternal's growing strength.), but the circus must still be moving on soon. There's no Post here, but I will slip this journal into the deliveries car on its way out, so that it may be carried back into town, and found by someone. I dare not tell the crew here, for fear of damning their souls when It takes control again. Instead I will run, as far as I can until it takes control again.
My name is Dalton Deschain. I am 22 years old, running north from 17 Mile Road near Sterling Heights. I must be stopped.
Please...tell my mother and father I love them. Tell them I hope I see them ag--
From the Diary of Catherine Elizabeth Harlowe
October 14, 1944
i had the most BEAUTIFUL dream last night, and i've just GOT to write it down.
i was with Bethany and Danny in Detroit (i guess in the dream i was still dating Danny? UNFORTUNATE). anyway and we were walking around the city and somehow i got separated from them. i ran around trying to find them, and eventually I heard a voice down an alleyway next to me. i turned down the alley, and found that the whole thing, walls and floor, were made of GOLD, reflecting beautifully in the sunlight. The ground was gold brick (just like Oz!) and the walls were a smooth, papery gold, sort of like lamé. The bricks led down the alley, and at the end i could see a well-dressed man standing there. His face was obscured by the shadows, but i could see that he had the most beautiful, giant rose in his hand, and he was holding it out to me!
i think this is the sign i've been waiting for. i think things are about to turn around, and i think it's all gonna happen in Detroit. i woke up with a huge grin on my face and jumped out of bed. i grabbed my folded-up map from my desk and drew a frantic circle around Detroit. Underneath i wrote "NEXT STOP DETROIT."
And underlined, underneath that: "THE LAND OF GOLD."
END OF SIDE A