Big Joe Wilson wants to stay rational, but a cult has brainwashed his wife. They convinced and taught her to forget language in pursuit of an uninterpretable heaven on the other side. Now Big Joe has to decide. Will he relinquish complete control over his wife’s catatonic state to doctors, or will he give into the cult’s nonsense and go in there after her, on the other side of language?
“They Live on the Other Side of Language” is a serial novel whose chapters will appear monthly, exclusively on TuffGnarl.com.
Part II, Chapter 4
“The Moon Hangs Low, but There’s Something Else Lower”
Antoine swung the flashlight wildly, punching the air. “What do you mean you didn’t bring the shotgun?”
Joe gestured to the field at the men leaping from the pickup. “They barged into the house before I could get it.” He adjusted Alija’s body over his shoulder. “I kind of had my hands full.”
“Will someone please tell me what the hell is going on?” Alija shouted. Her naked legs kicked free from the blanket. “My ass is in the wind here.”
Beyond the treeline, the men investigated their truck’s sliced tires. One of them pointed to the woods, in Joe’s direction.
Antoine leaned with the flashlight against Joe’s chin. “Next time I tell you to get a weapon, you get it.”
“Turn off that light. You’re showing them where we are.” Joe gripped Alija’s body with both hands. He tried to reposition the blanket around her body. “I think we better run.”
Antoine turned off the light and grabbed the shovel from the wheel barrel. He led them deeper into the woods.
Joe thought he saw something—no, multiple things—climb through the trees.
Alija gasped. “What’s above us?”
Joe barely could see them. They reached branch by branch, one limb at a time. Then the figures climbed where there were no branches, as if the sky draped its own canopy.
“Jesus.” Antoine dropped to the ground. “Get down.”
Joe lowered Alija with him. She clung to his neck as he crawled. Her free hand clutched the blanket. It dragged behind her like a muddy tail.
Antoine strove for the rock face. Behind a bush, he belly-crawled through a hole in the stone wall and pulled in the shovel after him.
Joe coaxed Alija to fight the pain and crawl through the hole. As he watched her wiggle her way into the tiny passage and drag her blanket after her, Joe knew his back was too thick and wide to follow.
He rolled over to see whatever he had to face.
Flashlights shone at the entrance to the woods.
Humanoid figures slithered above him.
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