I was walking when I saw him.
A lone figure on the opposite field.
I stopped because it was unusual for me to see anyone on my walks in the fields outside the village. The figure appeared to stop as well.
It was going dark and a misty evening veil made it hard for me to make out the stranger. He was, I approximated, a quarter of a mile away. The undulating nature of the land meant that both he and myself were stood on the crests of gentle slopes. It was thus that I could see his silhouette vividly but none of his features in the mist.
I began walking again and to my astonishment my dark companion did so too. We both strolled along our tops and over the salients, making it likely that at some point we might meet.
For some reason a growing sense of unease took hold. I did not like the look of this fellow.
But something compelled me to go on. Something muscular, as if a force was emanating from the rising fog. An insatiable desire to carry on down the slope toward the stranger took hold and despite my apprehension I reluctantly placed one foot in front of the other.
My unwelcome traveller did the same and we began an arc of steps across the now dark fields which would inevitably mean we crossed paths.
Toward the foot of the slope I stopped and raising my hand shouted 'Hello!'
It was when the other did the same with an almost inhuman gargle, that I knew we were somehow both actors in some fell and certain chapter for which there was an eerie and inescapable conclusion forming in that mist.
Standing there I felt the first true whisper of discomfort, for when I also raised my arm the distant walker raised his, albeit awkwardly as if stiffly prosthetic from some recent and horrific war.
Suddenly and without warning, in my mind's eye a blurred vision began to take shape, a mirage of a spiked twitching thing made of thorns, fur and shell emerging from the abyssal sea.
I was stunned. The hairs on my nape began to rise and I considered turning round that instant and walking back to the safety of my home where my loved ones were waiting for me down the lane at the edge of the fields.
Despite my mounting terror and desperately wishing to turn and flee, the grim composition of this night would not allow it. Whatever the cost, whatever the price, my companion and I would face one another and complete this ghastly tryst.
And so we walked, moving inexorably closer to one another, down the sides of the dell by the wood as the light faded entirely to be replaced by a sickly creeping murk.
We met where the slopes emptied into a shallow vale.
At first the haze prevented me from seeing him at all but I knew that the being stood in front of me. I breathed heavily as did the other, both transfixed at this the meeting point. Slowly my eyes started to adjust to the dark envelope and I began to see his face.
What I saw in that black moment terrified me to the core of my soul. I heard a dreadful scream of fearful anguish fill the fields and realised with abject horror that it was my own.
Before me stood myself. But not myself as I am known to this world but some hideous distortion, a spined deformity of my being belched from the dank pit, reflected in the fog as if a monstrous pane had surfaced between us.
I was staring through the windows of hell.
My monstrous twin glowered at me with hateful eyes, eyes which fixed me with unearthly envy, gouging my beliefs with spiteful unending malice.
I was rendered helpless by this devil and as my scream loudened I blinked the tears that had begun to well.
It was then we switched sides.
To my utter terror I was staring from where the thing had been. With its colossal mouth it was smiling back at me through the mirrored mist, a grin of such defiled morality that it chilled me to the bone and sparked my path toward assured insanity. My mind reeled as my legs started to take me backwards along the phantom's trail as if imps and kobolds clasped my feet.
My endless shriek was to no avail as I watched my usurper walk back along my earlier steps and enter my world, the world of warm souls living under God-lit skies. His fixed, desolate smile plagued my reasoning and I sensed that the demon would go on to corrupt everyone and everything I held dear.
I tried to return to the vale but I was pulled along the gradient toward the lightless crest by abominations unseen.
And as I fell over the edge of reality my mind conjured a tortured hideous truth, the stark revelation that such demons of the pit are forever peering at us though every mirror, mist, raindrop, pool and window. It has been so since the dawn of time, these appalling shadows wishing us harm, forever waiting, staring and stealing our lives. They gawp at our faces through earthly filaments, mimic our movements and invert our destinies into writhing orgies of foul decay, paving the way for our unholy annihilation.
Glimpsing this terrible fate I fell into the pogrom laughing, a mad man, where the hadal fires burst my bulging eyes as the demon shambled and shuffled toward the warm gas-lit glow of my distant home at the edge of the fields.