Can’t a body get some rest? Here I am, sitting on some rocks on the side of a mountain. It’s just before dawn. It’s just after sunset. It’s the height of noon. It’s the dead of night.
Where and when I am doesn’t matter. The only thing that is important here is that I am seated and I am at peace. I’ve had very little of either status in the waking lately.
And then the Swarm came.
Appearing as a cloud of nearly invisible flying insects, they came from everywhere at once. They blotted out the sky and obscured the ground. Their buzzing and clicking and humming made my skin crawl and their soft brushes against my skin made me want to rip my skin off.
They were not being hostile.
They were just saying hello.
I closed my eyes and kept my hands in my lap. I grunted an annoyed response. They backed away just enough to stop triggering a sensation of being suffocated.
This was not my first encounter with the Swarm. I know them to be persistent when wanting my cooperation. I don’t know if they are like other hive entities I have encountered or even if they are the same hive entity presenting in a different way. I do know they seek a level of connection that is akin to madness. One that is similar to the unbecoming of the Shamblings, but feels like dying.
The Swarm buzzed louder. I have been willing to meet them halfway. Other places, other dreams, where I have been willing to share sensations and senses. Where I have the choice of where and when to disengage. But what the Swarm wants right now is complete and total yielding.
I don’t even do that for gods anymore.
The buzzing increased. My teeth vibrated in resonance.
“Look. I’m curious as hell about you and what I think you are, and how you have worked your way into Harlequin’s fields, but you’re all or nothing and I’m not going there right now. I know you’ve been waiting for me to finish the Daleth business before asking me to go full in, but to be honest, I have someone else ahead of you in line, and I’m not risking a shanking from her just because you’re louder.”
The Swarm backed away from me for a moment, giving me the impression they were going to leave me and the dream in peace. They then imploded over and onto me, pressing their itchy insect bodies against me from head to toe, imprisoning me in place and almost triggering a panic attack.
And then they were at a short distance again. Their weight had lifted except for the small thing now resting on my lap.
A small metal case, much like a cigarette case. It had some type of abstract flower decoration engraved on the otherwise plain sides.
While I already knew who and what the case referred to, I still picked it up to be polite. (Some entities you should always be polite to and with.) I opened the case. On one side of the interior was a clean polished mirror. On the other side a tarot card was wedged. While the style of the card face cycled through all of the tarot decks I currently own, the card portrayed remained the same.
The case was [ThisWoman’s] personal symbol and tell for me.
My reflection in the mirror spoke to me. “You can do both, you know. Thank you for remembering me. We’ll talk after you’re settled.” After the short message, the face of the mirror became matte black and no amount of turning towards or away from imagined light would restore the surface. Her message was as brief as it was pointed.
I closed the case and rested it on my lap without releasing it. I became greatly aware of the Swarm thickening in intensity and number around me. They slowly drifted towards me until the closest insects pushed softly against me.
The sound of their buzzing now transmitted through flesh, the noise increased in intensity even as it dropped in pitch. I closed my eyes and felt as if I was surrounded by a vast multitude of drums.
The droning succeeded where commanding me failed and I was pulled into a deeper mode of thought that I have lied to myself and said was sleep.