A intent flicker of candle makes itself known outside the makeshift circle you find yourself sitting in. The room is mostly darkness aside from the small, solitary light that sits quietly opposite your cross-legged seat.
Around the white chalk circle that you’ve drawn around yourself, there lie scattered a variety of other paraphernalia – salts, pendants and symbols that only precious few would realize as truly occult materials. You’ve positioned them elaborately as part of the ritual, knowing that one misplaced object and you would never have the chance to have the encounter you so desperately craved.
A quick glance to the left reveals the time- it’s three minutes closer to midnight. Normally you would have checked the glowing screen of your phone, but there can’t be other light aside from the single candle in the room.
You know that they’re already waiting.
The knife clutched in your spare hand slides over the surface of your palm. You hold it firmly, trying to ignore the sharp throb of pain as red droplets begin to swell past the broken skin. You raise your wounded hand over your head, allowing a few scarlet droplets to fall onto the ground as your slowly start to murmur an ancient incantation under your breath.
It won’t be long now.
A swirling, smoky vortex opens in the ceiling as the room starts shaking with an unknown energy. The numerous objects are rattled about on the floor and the candle shivers in the invisible breeze, threatening to extinguish. The slight twinge of fear you feel is almost enough to make you leave your circle.
But restraint pulls you back. You know you can’t ever leave the circle- not until the ritual has finished.
You know that there are others out there- others who are far more malevolent than the one that you intend to bring into this world. And that stepping out of the circle will ensure that you probably won’t leave this room alive either.
Just keep calm until dawn, you remind yourself. After all, it’s not just you that you’re doing this for.
The violent rumbles cease, the room suddenly plunged into darkness. Your ribcage hitches with fear as you look around into the darkness, but the candle suddenly reanimates to illuminate a figure that has materialized outside the circle, with a pair of eyes that glow with a bright, otherworldly energy, directly fixed on you.
The form that sits in front of you is humanoid, yes. But you know deep within that this appearance is only for you, that their true form would be too much for your mind to take, despite your decidedly different tastes. It is a form that could be called ‘hideous’ by other humans, if they didn’t scream first. A human face sits like a mask over a pair of slobbering, sharp-toothed jaws that stand over a mass of pulsating tentacles.
Amidst the terror and the trepidation that roots you to the spot, you feel an overwhelming love for the barely human presence that faces you. You extend your hands, making sure not to leave your circle as you slowly embrace them.
They purr into your neck as they practically encase you within a living cocoon of their tentacles. A massive pulsating tongue leaves their now extended jaws and eagerly licks the side of your face, smooth and intimate. They murmur low throaty growls, or perhaps words of an ancient language now lost upon human ears. Although you can never truly understand what they are saying, you understand the intimacy of their actions.
After all, they’ve been waiting for you.
You take in the sight of them, their fleshly, tentacled, vaguely humanoid outline that so eagerly embraces you and their sweet scent, something that seems to belong to something so much purer than a creature whose whole form is the living embodiment of decadence and decay.
The mockery of the human form which they take only reminds you of the drastic differences between you. They’re different from you, so different that it should be impossible for you both to look each other in the eyes, let alone love like this. Your lover exists beyond the realms of mortal comprehension, beyond the limits of imagination. They come from a place which few know about, and even fewer believe in. A place beyond all time and space.
That mask-like face gleams out at you with a twisted grin. It’s enough to fuel the nightmares of anyone else who would have laid eyes on it, but when you look at those otherworldly eyes, all you see is love. An ancient, unyielding love, reserved entirely for you.
As hideous as they are, you can’t help but love them.
You feel their many limbs sucker onto your skin., rubbing up and down your body as they pull you closer. Shuddering, you can only find yourself falling further into them.
Even though it was you who brought them here, it’s they who have you now- mind, body and soul.
And you couldn’t be happier.
A tentacle caresses the side of your face, dusky surface shimmering in the wavering candlelight like the most unknowable depths of the universe. Before, you never thought that something so simple could make you feel so complete.
You wish that you could somehow leave the chalk circle you’re confined in, to hold them in your arms the way they hold you, the way you’ve always wanted to. It pains you from the bottom of your heart that you can’t.
It was a rift in space time that brought you both together, but two worlds that forever separate you. You know that you can’t belong in theirs, and neither can they belong in yours. The sights of their world would blind your eyes, the sounds would destroy your ears, the alien sensations would all but shred your skin from your body.
You know that this is the only way that you can truly be together.
And somehow, it pains you more than comforts you.
But you find yourself determined to make the most of what little time you have left with them. With how much they mean to you, you want to treat them like the untouchable treasure that they are.
After your long, passionate embrace together, your eyelids shudder into the temptation of sleep, you find yourself being lightly nudged awake by a tentacle. There’s a low, concerned growl as the many eyes on your lover’s lower body turn in the direction of the flickering candle.
Still drowsy, you initially struggle to understand their meaning. Then your pain returns tenfold.
It’s almost warning, they tell you through their touches, warning you that they must return to their own dimension before dawn. The ritual only offers so little time together.
With a pained sigh, you press your head to the bony, unnatural surface of their false one, feeling a guttural, sad moan reverberate up from their massive anglerfish-like jaws beneath. You don’t want to leave them.
But you know you have to.
Stifling back the tears that threaten to break your vision, you allow them to hold you for one last time, their high, unnatural whine breaking the unnatural silence of the room.
“I love you,” you tell them.
They growl again, still as deep and intimidating as before, but you hear the affection they hold for you in it. Your head falls into their lap, cradled by a writhing mass of eldritch tentacles, more content than you’ve ever been before in your life. Their mask of a face stares down at you as you look at up at it, forever watching over you.
Streams of dawn break through your shuttered eyelids and you awaken to find yourself alone in the centre of the room. It’s the early morning and sunlight now streams through the windows in place of the tepid darkness you had lost yourself in last night- lost yourself with them.
By this time, they’re long since gone. The room holds no trace of either them or your nightly encounter, pardon a sweetish smell, like wilted spring flowers. It was as if they were nothing but a bittersweet nightmare.
You pick up the long extinguished candle with a sad smile.
It’s better this way, you try to tell yourself.
Turning back to the morning sun, you try to forget the past night and all that happened, try to forget the ritual as just a dream. Even as you face the new day, you already notice that the sides of your face are already wet with tears of past memories.