Your legs burned as you sprint down the narrow corridor – seemingly growing smaller and smaller the more you went on – as the sickening moist sounds followed, getting closer and closer to you. Wheezing, you burst through the door lying at the end of the almost unfathomably long hallway, slamming it behind you in haste. Your heart leaps into your throat as you realize just how close one of those decorated tentacles was to latching around your throat. Lungs on fire and muscles seizing, you quickly throw everything you can move in front of the door; tables, chairs…anything to keep the horrors in pursuit of you out. You quickly take stock of the room you’re in. Small, unevenly shaped…differing heights in the ground creating alternating rising and descending slopes. It’s the same as the other five you’ve already sprint through in a panic. A lone door at the far end of the room awaits you. A pain ripples through your head as you wince, making your way towards it. Why did this have to happen?
Why did it have to happen to Ina?
Your girlfriend was always bookish, put simply. Shy, quiet, pensive. You count yourself lucky you ever managed to even talk with her. She was kind, as well…thoughtful and sweet. Not whatever the fuck she is now. Moving towards the door as the one behind you rattles from impact, you move on. Something in your stomach shifts while the muscles under your eyes twinge, equilibrium thrown off balance.
Your memory seems so muddled now. You can barely recall Ina’s…human form, you guess would be the best way to put it. Long black hair in place of the crown of tentacles…no tentacles at all, really, as far as your memory is concerned. It all started with that goddamn book. The educated part of you quickly chimes in, mentioning that the book is most likely a grimoire – an ancient magical tome. Can potentially contain entities. It doesn’t take much thought to surmise that one of said entities probably corrupted Ina to her current state. A tentacle beast. Something touched by beings beyond the stars.
Muttering about “The Ancient Ones” leads you to believe that it’s probably far worse than you thought.
The appearance change was strange enough, true. She had stopped talking to you for almost a week – prompting you to visit her apartment in worry – as she tried to hide it from you. That day seemed so long ago, now. When she finally revealed the form to you, she didn’t seem particularly bothered by it. A red flag, in retrospect. You were willing to move past it, of course; she was your girlfriend. Future wife if things kept going well. The tricks with tentacles grew to be endearing, the more and more she mastered them. You weren’t sure what exactly you could do for her in this relationship other than be with her; obviously, no doctors or the like could do anything for her, nor did she want to even try. She was happy with her newfound abilities.
If they had stopped there, you would’ve been happy, too. Something about her demeanor…shifted. It changed just as much as her physical appearance, though it took much longer for that to come to the surface. Her eyes lacked the same curious sparkle they had. Her quiet nature bloomed into something more…open. You thought this was great, at first – Ina was finally leaving her shell. Only what was leaving the shell wasn’t the Ina you knew. It was something almost malicious. Something older than time. Something that wanted to watch you suffer, crack, and finally break. You shiver, navigating the seemingly endless labyrinth of halls. You regret ever stepping foot into Ina’s closet to hide from her.
Is this even a closet anymore? Where the fuck are you?
You noticed the more and more you came to Ina’s apartment, the heavier the atmosphere was every time. The air was harder to breathe. The edges of shadows coiled and shivered. Light barely pierced the dark veil of her windows, no matter how much you cleaned. Something touching your shoulder only for there to be nothing there. Faint whispers on the edges of perception. You don’t know why you kept going back. Ina always promised you something so grand and beautiful if you would just come and spend time with her. Why did you always say yes? Why didn’t you just decline? Why did you feel so compelled? Something in your brain squirms.
Arriving at a door, you hastily move inwards. The room is unlike the rest of the ones you’ve maneuvered through, bringing you momentary comfort…but discomfort. You can’t make out the shape of the room itself – all is cast in the same disgusting darkness as the halls outside – but the key figure piece of the room is an ornate full body mirror, seemingly hovering in the center of the room. Cautiously approaching it, your reflection comes into view from the darkness, and you cringe at the sight. You look on the verge of death. Shakily, you take stock of your injuries in the moment of peace. Blood seeps down from a wound in your shoulder. Your fingers are coated in an inky black substance, almost like tar. Bruises and sucker marks form a solid coil around your neck. Examining yourself in the looking glass, you lean in just a bit more. You don’t remember taking this much damage along the way, but…adrenaline is a hell of a thing, you surmise. But something about this seems…wrong, somehow. You look at yourself just a bit more closely, examining your features. Bringing your hand up to your cheek, it all clicks into place. Just barely visible in the low light around the mirror, you can make out the fact that your hands are clean. No inky substance to be found. Your eyes widen as your “reflection” grins, your features quickly growing into an exaggerated rictus of madness. Without warning, it lunges forward. Ina shoots through the glass as you scream, narrowly avoiding her as you stagger backwards, ripping the door open and setting down the hallway. You hear her laughing behind you as your ears ring and heart pounds, the slithering noises growing closer behind you.
Another wave of nausea slams you in the stomach, bringing you to a screeching halt as you lean against one of the inky black walls of the hallway. The texture seems to writhe against your skin like living shadow, the roaring wave of disorientation causing you keel over and vomit on the ground. It comes out a murky tincture of red and black before it promptly is absorbed by whatever surface the “ground” is comprised of. Ina’s laughter echoes from the hall behind you, hastily bringing you to your feet as you haphazardly resume your sprinting. You can hear her behind you. Her breath is at your neck. You’re going to die here. Adrenaline crashes through your veins. Violet eyes dot the hallway, opening and watching you pass as you struggle.
Just before you reach the door, one of the long, slippery appendages coils around your ankle, sharply pulling back as you fall face first. You scream as you’re yanked back painfully, clawing at the shivering ground below you in any attempt to gain purchase while more and more of the seemingly endless mass of tentacles constrict you. Working their way up to your throat, you’re flipped. Ina stays above you, seemingly floating in perfect stillness, the sharp purple hue of her eyes piercing you as her grin widens. Without warning, one of the tentacles plunges into your mouth, squirting a disgusting, caustic substance into your mouth. You attempt to scream, only to gag and forcefully swallow whatever it is Ina pumps into you as she watches with great interest.
Your throat burns as your limbs grow heavy and numb. An awful, searing pain works its way up your body, leaving only that terrible numbness in its place. Your heart, once pounding out of control, begins to gradually slow and relax. Your mind begins to go with it. Ina very slowly begins to descend towards you – or perhaps you’re being lifted. Stopping just shy of you, she leans down, and with a wink begins kissing your forehead. Immediately, pain floods through even the numb areas of your body. You spasm in response as your brain is flooded with knowledge of something…indescribable. Far older than you had initially assumed. Far older than you can begin to comprehend, than any one can comprehend. It could crush you with a passing thought. Yet all you can feel from it is love. Boundless, fathomless love. Affection. Desire. Lust. And Ina was chosen as its priestess. The pain continues to build up as you twitch and shake in agony. You feel like your brain is being scraped out of your skull. Finally, without warning, it stops. Ina pulls away from you, smiling.
“Now do you understand?” She asks coyly.
You don’t have time to respond before you faint.