Threaded like steel vines through crystal expanses, exposed and bleeding in the night air, I watch as legs like redwoods move past my bedroom window.

They move with exquisite purpose, the way you think of sloths as creeping slow.

It’s kind of beautiful. People have died, of course, but not by direct action. I can see them now; Eddie, my old neighbor; Sandra, an ex-girlfriend; one of the regulars from the divebar down the road. They sit a thousand-strong, threaded into the giant stalks, bodies broken and forever-sleeping and feeding the new host.

The giant limbs pass by my window slowly, and I can see, for just a brief moment, the signs of supposed Ascension. When they came, they brought promises of salvation. A new dawn glittered like jeweled flames in deep wells of midnight, thousands of eyes holding the precursor for a sanctified journey. In reality, they were just hungry. They’d destroyed their last home and needed fresh feeding grounds.

As the seventh or eighth leg lumbers past my window, I take a deep breath and open it; the air packs a punch like a train of ripe meat, rocketing from somewhere deep on high and coming to rest right in the nose and stomach all at once. Supposedly, one gets used to it after a while. I still haven’t.

It’s not more than ten feet from me. I can see every hair bristling and waving lazily in the wind; it reminds me of southern silk, of Summers spent in the cornfields of my aunt and uncle’s farm in Georgia. Wrecked hands hold steadfast, nails broken and joints bent. Eyes shut in decadent, ruined pleasure sit tight and blackened in their sockets; sucked out from the inside the way salt eats up ice.

It’s said that people just get stuck, that you could just be walking along and get swept up. I know that’s a lie. I can feel the siren song. I can hear it, sometimes deep in the belly of early morning, rumbling gently across the dust of a new day. I can hear it sometimes in the creaking bones of my apartment building, plinking methodically in pipes rusted with age. And I can smell it; it smells like sweet things, like flowers and innocence and hope, and just underneath the surface, bracing against the lure, there’s that touch of familiarity devoted to the individual.

The legs are finally past my window, past my building, out bleeding into the dark horizon like pools of godly oil.

The beast brays, its titan body shuddering, and the fleshy hatch in its back opens, sending out a fountain of blood. The note blares, rippling through me like a bubbling cauldron, whipping my organs into a frenzy. My stomach cinches, sending warning signs to my brain, wanting to release; I let it. Warm liquid shit runs down my leg, and I sink into the wall, clutching the windowsill.

In the distance, the beast waits. Soon, I will join the fold.