We’ve covered the main protagonists of the Secret World; now it’s time to look at one of the antagonists. Nobody really knows what the Filth is, except perhaps the Buzzing – and as you’ll see, they aren’t exactly giving us a lot of information. The most important thing to know is that the Filth is bad news. Very bad news. It’s hard to say whether it is shaping events in the world, or simply responding to them, taking advantage of them. Of all the aspects of the Secret World, I believe the Filth shows the influence of H. P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos the most.
Our wisdom flows so sweet. Taste and see.
TRANSMIT – initiate cephalopod signal – RECEIVE – initiate cuttle-ink frequency – HANDLE WITH CARE – inhale the Chernobyl syntax – AVOID CONTACT WITH SKIN – initiate the eel mucous lexicon – HARMFUL OR FATAL IF SWALLOWED – flip the Ace of Ruin – WITNESS – The Filth.
Initiate investigation protocols – NEW ENGLAND – fog follows on ancient weapon – EGYPT – Dark Water rises and cultists drink deep – TRANSYLVANIA – putrescent radiation breeds creeping fungus – TOKYO – the Black Signal broadcasts blasphemous algorithms, infecting all ears – following the signal…
It creeps through the crawly cracks of 3AM. That weird dimension. There are thoughts that can only hatch in the human skull at 3AM. It is always 3AM somewhere. It is happening right now.
A woman wakes with a headache. She seeks aspirin in the bathroom. Black mold grows on the wall tiles. The stain forms a face. She hears a terrible howling from the sink drain. She bends to listen. When she looks up, she does not recognise the reflection in the mirror. The face in the stain smiles.
Night after night she listens to the howling in the pipes. It gains a bloodcurdling cadence. She hums along. She can almost sing the words. She scratches the pimples dotting her body. They swell to boils. They burst, revealing new eyes. The eyes show her unutterable truths. Soon, she sticks thumb tacks into her tongue so she can better explain these truths to the weeping children whose bed she hides under.
It is always 3AM in the Filth. It is liquid 3AM, black and dripping.
Initiate diagnostic protocols.
The engines strain. Cleansing efficiency compromised. Engine 45B lost. We’ve sprung a leak. The centre cannot hold. Corrupted Anima spills. Vermiculated fractals coagulate to solid geometry. The Filth! The Filth! It transmits!
It is like us. A flowing message. Crawling letters. A living meme. It is not us. It is anti-us, anti-luminosity that crucifies sentience. It trickles down hundreds of dimensions on alien gravity. You cannot even see most of it, sweetling. How will you escape? How do you hobble through this world on three tiny dimensions? It flows across time, a disease floating on Quantum Foam.
Sumerians called it the Eater. In Babylon they named it Nergal’s Rot. Dead tongues dubbed it the Devouring Plague, the Zero Point Pathogen, the Dark Homonculus, the Blackworm Jism.
Information is a super-weird substance, sometimes floating as oil, sometimes vapour, invisible waves, pollution, roiling black storms, a viral rhyme.
It is the harbinger of change – the sizzling, celestial syphilis. The flesh mutates. The mind boils to bilious madness. All lucid thoughts to slay. All sweetlings are fair game to the drip. But the Filth pours, as dark dreams, directly into the heads of the insane and sadistic.
Following the signal…
Somewhere, a trucker reads alien letters carved into the bathroom stall walls of a truck stop. He cannot look away. Pathogens in the grammar open an event horizon in his head. He spreads the scrawl in every stop on his route, carving it into the stalls. He itches and he scratches. Others see the letters. They itch. They scratch. He scratches his face, draws the runes in red with his box knife. His head blossoms into a bouquet of writhing lampreys.
But the Filth is only the transmitted, not the transmitter – the excremental shadow of something else. What dreamt it? What stirs and sputters and lurks, as big as planets, in the infinite shade between cancer cells?
Have you seen them, Sweetling? Have they noticed you noticing them? Once you see the hungry sky, it sees you. All futures point to a stratosphere of tentacles.