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I have always heard its tendrils writhing in the walls each night. Felt them, to put it more accurately. Ever since my mind's eye, gripped in the throes of nightmares most cruel, glimpsed that sightless horror from unfathomed depths, there has been ... a connection.

Right up until the end, Birdie never understood. She never believed me. She ignored my bleatings about returning to the city, where the earth was long-settled, dead, and safe.

"If anyone hears your nonsense, they'll have you back in a straightjacket before Thanksgiving," she'd always crow. "So keep your mouth shut."

I had to show her. Had to make her understand.

She returned from shopping one afternoon to find me on the couch, an axe resting next to me. I was covered in dust from our living room wall. Dust, and nothing more, for I found nothing behind the wall.

"I'm so sorry," I bawled over her shrieks.

She was halfway to the gap before I realized a rippling, purple tendril had wrapped itself around her ankle.

With a shout, I grabbed the axe, meaning to cut her free - but stumbled over a grocery bag she'd dropped. I scrambled to the gap and reached it just in time to watch her wild, terrified eyes recede into the darkness.

Now, each night while the house lays silent, my eyes follow its undulations; the blind groping of its tendrils trapped behind plaster, searching endlessly. Searching for me.

But I dare not close my eyes. For when I do, it calls to me in my Birdie's voice.


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