THE EIDOLON PARADOX

I stumble through the door and desperately scramble to shut it behind me, slamming my fingers in the process. A second later they slam into the door on the opposite side, clawing and scratching at its thick metal plate. That safety door is the only thing separating them from us.

A single, reoccurring thought invades my mind.

Somewhere along the line I made a mistake. Somewhere along the line I should've done this instead of that. Somewhere, in the span of a few hours, my life has gone from being a domestic, everyday nightmare of overdue bills, mortgage payments and high cholesterol, to a much different kind of nightmare involving real-life monsters and death.

"Where's Harley?" the girl screams behind me, leveling her weapon at me. I can hear the safety release click off and I know she's holding the weapon just like I taught her. Good kid.

I'm trying to catch my breath and gather my thoughts. I'm scared shitless and trying not to fall apart in front of her. The things on the other side of the door are strong and although I doubt they can break through, I still lean forward into it in an effort to lend whatever support my meager weight can add.

"Where is she? Answer me?" screams Pola. Hands tremble and tears stream down her grease-covered cheeks. The gun she's pointing at me hold, by my count, three bullets. If I were one of those things she'd be dead by now. I specifically told her to shoot me if I acted strangely and didn't answer the security question correctly when I returned. Fortunately for me, Pola is more patient than sensible.

The things on the other side of the door abruptly cease their assault and the sudden silence is somehow more menacing.

"Harley's in doggie heaven. She's in doggie heaven…" I manage to wheeze.

Pola lowers the gun and runs to me wrapping her arms tightly around my middle, sobbing. Pola's dog Harley had died two years before. When those things take over a body, they don't seem to inherit or access the memories of their victims. We took a chance that if I returned as one of those things Pola would be able to tell it wasn't me anymore.

Her parka has a huge rip across the back, resulting from a narrow escape earlier today. I put my arms around her and I can distinctly feel her body warmth escaping through. A few hours ago she mentioned she was hungry. By now, like me, she must be thirsty and starving.

Until now we've been very lucky but it seems that as of this point, trapped inside a dimly lit underground vault, with no food or water and no prospects for the immediate future, our luck has run out.

"What did you find up there?" she asks, looking up at me her eyes full of fear.

"Locked doors… No one around, 'cept for them. I'll try again later... for now let's rest.." I end, knowing going back out there again would be the end me and eventually Pola.

Now they knew where to find us.

Three bullets. More than enough…

I push that thought out of my head, disgusted at myself but also a little comforted that we would never be taken by them, if we could help it.

If you can imagine a small and cold stonewalled cube with no windows or vents large enough for anyone to wriggle through, then you are picturing the place we're in. We sit and lean back into the icy walls, leaning against each other for warmth and comfort. In a few second Pola, exhausted, has fallen into a deep sleep. Enveloped in the silence, I consider ways we could possibly escape this place without being torn to shreds by those things lurking outside. Eventually, the reality of the situation and my sleep-induced fantasies begin to overlap and I surrender to my body's need for sleep.

Just before I drift off into the temporary safety of repose, the thought returns; somewhere in the past I made a bad call and because of the single bad decision, all of humanity will die.

Nightmares follow.

"It may be said with a degree of asssurance that not everything is as it seems. What you're witnessing is either the demise of a man and his young companion, or the demise of the human race. Although one is not sure which of the two is the correct assumption, or if in fact only once can be correct, one thing is glarilgly obvious; the choice to select a violent death at the time of one's choosing or a less palitable end, will have unforseen consequences... in the Twilight Zone."