Had it not been for the low kept background noise of a television in another room - perhaps even with it still, cuts of news anchors blending seamlessly with commercial jingles for products one couldn’t very well afford - the scratching of a razor across a stubbled face was the pin drop in the middle of a near-empty bathroom, occupied by one much like the rest of the apartment it had been attached to. It had been cheap, something he had desperately needed in the aftermath of a life fallen apart, and it didn’t matter if it had been the site of some foul menace that had all but overcome its limited expanse, casting the unit in a wash of death and decay that had taken months to clean out; and, still, there had been remnants of the horror’s wake, bits and pieces of unknown lives left behind - some human, some animal, some perhaps even unfathomable had they been found in the hidden depths of repainted walls and newly laid carpets.
He had heard a rumor that the apartment’s former occupant, an artist, young and troubled and struggling as many did in a world saturated by mediums that could be picked up and learned by anyone with enough focus to do so, had died - one of those super heroes who hadn’t crawled out of the nooks and crannies of San Francisco, but had been forced out into a public that may or may not have been so welcoming; and the circumstances had been just as mysterious when one dug through the details, sorting through the muck and mire of comic book pages and news feeds that spoke of monsters ascending from the depths of the bay and showdowns on the heights of Twin Peaks where his body had been found, investigation stemmed by the simple notion that it could be chalked up as a casualty of superpowers.
Good riddance, he had thought with another swipe of the razor across his face, the discard pieces falling into an empty sink dotted with the remains of former swipes. Every once in a while, there had been a burp, a gurgle, a sound within the pipes that might have been something adjusting to recently replaced fittings or another unit turning on the shower before their morning ventures into the world. In a city like San Francisco where old architecture sat flush with new construction, corporate power towering high over historical property, it wasn’t unheard of for a pipe to burst or toilet to overflow, and a wary glance was given to the porcelain as if to suggest it not to do it again.
But it hadn’t been the toilet that should have been of concern as the sounds reminiscent of sludge continued through the pipes, growing louder and louder as they echoed in tight metal spaces, expanding like a balloon as it found the open air space just beyond the drain, and exploding into the basin with a pop that sent the apartment’s new tenant sprawling backward and into the larger space of the lightly furnished studio apartment in a panic. As if a flood, the black ooze continued to fill the basin, sloshing over the sides until there was no porcelain levee to keep it contained and splattering onto the floor until it could coagulate again, congealing into a form that was decidedly inhuman even though there had been no telling what it might have been - limbs like hands extended like arachnid limbs while teeth, long and sharp, swirled about a malformed face where blurred vision was only viable from the depths of wicked, war-torn domains.
And the anger - it seemed to swell in such confines, the creature seemingly growing in size, pulsing into heights that easily towered over the man scrambling on the ground to get away from the encroaching nightmare that only seemed to grow more limbs in its approach. It fed off of it - the anger in the room that seemed set in the very walls in a long-laid dilapidation that seemed to materialize before his very eyes, brought in by the fear of a young man facing his death and, now, one much older that he had been when he died, and staining everything it had touched. It triggered the smell of something rotten and ichthyic, bubbling from the surface of the ever-changing creature like rotten wood burning in the arid fires of brimstone, almost sulfuric as it stung his nostrils; and while the screams had been easy to drown out, replaced once more by the quiet hum of the television, it was only the quiet before the storm that erupted.
It would have been a valiant, if not poorly planned out, last-ditch effort of escape from consumption that pierced the relative quiet with the audible crash of a glass pane and thud of considerable weight against the sidewalk pavement, scattering pedestrians and shifting them from their everyday business into terrified gawkers and onlookers at the crumpled mess; but ultimately, it had been a failure.
Rising up from the mass that for only a moment laid still, the creature rose to its great heights, towering over those around it with a more solid form, stationary arms caging what could only be considered its head and directing focus into the gaping maw of its mouth, lined by sharp teeth that seemed to be carved from the very bones it had attained. Stretching across its ever-twisting, ever-shifting black flesh, it was the opening to a great void, a gullet of considerable proportions, that allowed for a bellowing, guttural roar as if to signal its destructive intent, punctuated with the slam of its body against the ground to shake its prey into action.
Surely, Henry hadn’t intended the spell go go sideways and certainly not like this, watching through the distorted vision of the creature’s eyes - not that they had been so readily perceived by those running and hiding for their very lives as the creature stomped through the city on a warpath mirroring the puzzle work creatures charging through the rebellious hordes of Limbo - from the dimensional depths he remained. It was another failure, something he could attribute to the hellish landscape that seemed to twist his magics more readily in the pandemonium, but in the attempts to follow to cease the creature’s destruction, he found it out of his hands - literally.