With the coming of Mardi Gras and all the attention that accursed city is garnering, I feel it is time to conclude my narrative regarding my experiences on the Autumnal Equinox of 2005, the eve of Hurricane Rita, the incident I've called, The Nightmares of Katrina.
You can follow the story by clicking on the tag, "Nightmares of Katrina" in the right hand column.
The story has been a long time in the telling, as telling is not quite the right word. It would be more apt to say a recounting, a warning, a scrubbing of the wounds, and a reassurance that I would be able to deal with it and do my utmost to ensure the kind of thing can never happen again. At least it is my fervent hope that human kind itself will never initiate nor take advantage of a similar situation if I have any power at all to hinder and retard such efforts.
A spherical vortex raged with hurricane force winds around me as I stood on the ceiling of an abandoned church; my wayward Private regaining consciousness, struggling on my hip to rejoin in her demented reverie; tentacled, alien creatures struggled against the maelstrom and the crowd of cultist dancers each working desperately and menacingly in turn to drive the vortex and to stop them; and all with no sign of the woman who allowed me the chance to retrieve my soldier from whatever fever gripped her mind and drove her to this place.
The center of my then current universe was a space I had been thinking of the eye of this internal tempest. It was a sphere of calm, inky black studded with unwinking hard studs of stars. There were stellar clouds, spiral arms and whole galaxies in that tight, impossible space.
I shielded my eyes against the storm to search for Doctor Zoe and a way to get down to the door by which I had entered and hoped to make my desperate escape. I had no thought beyond exiting this insanity. That's when I saw it, the eye coming at me, as if falling up straight at my head.
I had to look at it. I cringed, but I looked, not ducking or shirking in the least. It grew in my vision, the interior features becoming clearer, but never getting any closer. The space itself approached. It swelled larger and it approached.
I realized that it could be seeming to be larger just at the same moment Brown became fully awake. My attention went to her long enough to ensure my grip was sufficient and then when I returned my gaze at the eye, I saw that it was both growing and wobbling. At times it plunged right for me and then veered off to carom around the chapel.
The growth seemed to hearten the cultists. They increased their gyrations and I imagine they stepped up their singing, though the cacophony made it impossible to hear them. In response the slimy, scaly aliens redoubled their own efforts, ruthlessly struggling with the devotees to bring them down and vanish them away to some unknown vistas of a certainly inhuman world.
It was becoming difficult to breath, see or even think. As a testament to its power, as the eye swung around toward us again I could clearly feel its tug. This was above, beyond and in contrast to the pulling, pushing and shaking the winds, currents, syncopaths and their monstrous abductors smote me with.
Brown gyrated on my hip, awake and active finally, and for her effort an alien struck her with such force that it lifted both of us nearly out of the waist deep liquid surrounding the room.
The blow was a glancing one as the creature was already committed to another dancer, but it was sufficient to knock Brown unconscious again and give me an idea.
I made a last search for Doctor Zoe. Not finding her and feeling the tug of the growing eye returning I leapt for all I was worth, flinging myself and Private Brown at the growing tide, feeling myself sucked from the waters, bandied about by the winds and slashed by the rain. We tumbled uncontrollably toward the expanding void, its gravity and vacuum pulling us away from the battering tentacles.
We were flying through the center space of the room gyroscopically spinning and swaying terrifyingly toward oblivion. I clung to the Private and balled up, pulling my legs and arms in tight, gathering and protecting the young woman with me. My eyes could never leave the scene though, stung as they were by spray and wind, accosted at the sight.
Before me, growing, spinning and careening was a hole in our universe; a hole to somewhere else. A levee, a damn was cracking and this time it would take not a city, but our entire existence, the whole universe was in peril of the thing around which we hung spinning.
Below and past the sucking hole of eternal destruction, a group of the slithering aliens overcame a particularly numerous knot of revealers, blinking out of existence the suddenly empty space of water became a weak link.
The eye hole began to topple toward the space, flinging us in turn around and down. Too fast, too slowly we fell, were thrown. I could barely see, barely breathe. The water beneath approached as slowly as the torrent tore at us, the hole came within an arm's reach, had I only stretched an arm. I did not, I clamped tighter and my dream of falling to water that would offer both salvation and ruin was becoming reality at that moment.
We raced at glacier pace right to the place from which a hydrant of water burst, adding to the flood and frenzy. I realized that it must be the door just as we spun round, falling backwards.
The eye quavered and rocked, dipping as far as the water level, sweeping aliens and cultist together into the inky vacuum of another universe. As I saw them tumble away, the hole spinning and tearing at itself I struck the waters below me like landing on pavement.
My arms and legs sprang open with the impact, throwing Brown up as I sank beneath the spiking waves. The pain of a thousand belly flops tsunamied through my nervous system and back.
In a moment it was past and I reached up to snatch Brown's ankle. I only caught a few fingers in the laces of her boots, but it was enough. I swam down for all I was worth through the dark waters flowing up like a high pressure hose flowing over a class V rapids.
Kicking and flailing with my one arm I struggled. Just as I thought my lungs would burst and lactic acid would render my muscles powerless, my fingers brushed the door jamb.
I gripped desperately.
I gripped with two fingers, then four. I pulled, strained, reached, dug deep into my will power, the only resource I had left, and my face broke the surface. I snatched a breath, but it was the only thing I could manage before complete muscle failure.
I collapsed back against the onslaught of the flood. The only strength left me were the two fingers in Brown's boot and two on the door jamb.
My fingers too, finally failed and I slipped back down into the waters.
Then a hand snatched my wrist. Then another hand, small, but powerful. They pulled me, us toward the door, the dying light and air.
When my face again broke through the surface I breathed life giving air, oxygen of power. I pulled with the hands. I couldn't see who it was yet, but I could pull, and pull I did. My shoulders came, then a foot caught purchase and I worked with my arm and legs, dragging Brown through the deluge.
When her booted foot cleared the water, and I was solidly bent around the door jamb, I heard the voice of our savior say, "My God!"
Chief Mac released me and grabbed Brown's ankle. Relieved of the weight I pulled myself completely clear, and turned to help her pull Brown out.
I wanted to stop and rest, to collapse and not rise for days, but it was then that I heard the noise, nearly as loud as the interior had been.
The building was disintegrating. The eye must have been banging around like a boulder through a crystal house. Winds were roaring in, waters and debris swirling like a spherical tornado.
"Now! Go Now!" Shouted the Chief right in my stunned ear. We each grabbed one of Brown's arms and dragged her to the hummer. Brown and I tumbled into the open back and the Chief drove away with all the speed the vehicle had.
I looked back as we drove away, unable to look away. I saw it. I saw pieces of the building, the cars, the waters, some of the houses and bodies, human and otherwise, spinning round.
The eye had grown, but it was unstable, it bullied around until the whole chapel was a swarm of bricks and debris, then suddenly it collapsed, imploding with such force that our vehicle slowed for a moment.
The building re-coalesced into a ball of brick and mortar before dropping into the hole it had made of itself.
After, as we rode back, the rains fell and the winds blew, but it was only a hurricane named Rita.