Body snatchers from an unknown world. An Other has two forms: its victim mimic and its true form. An Other can perfectly mimic the appearance of the victim it consumes. The victim can be any sort of creature with a spinal column and a brain. In it's true form, an Other has a bulbous, elongated head that inflates. From the head, fungal plates extend and retract. It's arms transform into long tendrils that look like giant arteries. Smaller tendrils also erupt from the mouth. It's overall shape still resembles the size and shape of the victim it mimicked, but the tendrils, fungal plates, and spores emanate from every direction.
She had been having nightmares. She couldn't remember the details, but when she went about her daily chores she felt restless. Rumours swirled in her head, never settling. Townsfolk had been muttering about strange things lately. Lights on at weird times of the night; some sort of odd mist in the nearby woods; unusual noises – that sort of thing. What she didn't understand was why it bothered her. She usually didn't go in for that kind of thing, but she couldn't deny that her gut was telling her something. Something just felt wrong.
"Owen can you hand me that bucket?" She and her son had been working hard together every morning on the farm. Harvest season was waning and the days were getting shorter. Darkness always seemed to come too early. The air smelled cold, like winter. Owen approached and handed her the bucket wordlessly. He seemed stressed out too. He was usually so easy going but today he had barely said a word.
"Are you feeling okay honey?", she asked. Yesterday, when they were letting out the sheep in the afternoon, she had noticed he looked a bit waxy. Maybe he was coming down with something? "I'm fine mom", Owen replied. He graced her with a little smile. It reassured her. She and her son had no one else. His smile had gotten her through many tough times.
She walked over to the pig pen and started scooping feed into the bucket. The pigs all came forward snorting and snuffing, anticipating the meal. She was scraping the bottom of the bin, yet another problem to add to her list. How were they possibly going to afford to feed them through the winter? Automatically she started thinking about which pig she would have to slaughter first.
As she started to stand and turn towards the pen, she felt a sharp impact at the back of her head. Her entire vision flashed, red star bursts filling her eyes. As she regained her vision she became vaguely aware that she was on the ground near the pig pen. The pigs were screeching loudly making the ringing in her head even worse. She tried to move but couldn't. It felt like her skull might be cracked. Above her stood her son Owen.
"Ownnn" she tried to talk. "OOooownn". He crouched over her staring blankly. To her horror, his face started to change. The flesh around his teeth seemed to lift away revealing more of the bones and gums underneath. His eyes sockets seemed to deepen as shapes rippled underneath his skin. A strange sound was coming from somewhere deep in his throat. She thought she must be hallucinating. This couldn't be real. As the deep croaking sound grew in intensity, she saw black and purple flecks start to pour from the crevices appearing all over his face and head. It stank of mold. He raised his arms, and where his hands used to be were writhing, red tendrils. They lashed out, penetrating her eyes and mouth. She tried to scream but couldn't make a sound. All she could do was lay there helplessly as she felt the tendrils traveling deep inside her body, wrapping around her stomach, her ribs, her spine, her brain. She could feel every part of her changing. The pain was excruciating. All she wanted to do was scream but the scream remained silently trapped inside her head. The pigs behind her were still squealing, bumping into each other as they fought for the grains she had spilled across the ground.
A minute later she stood up. She looked at Owen and knew everything about him and what she had to do now. Together they walked back to the barn and got brooms to clean up the mess. While they worked that morning a small part of her, a part pushed way down to the bottom of her mind, continued to scream in silence.
Somewhere in a remote corner of The Ceaseless Realms, an alien presence from an unknown place threatens to overtake the world. No one knows the creature's true name. Those that have discovered it and not been taken simply refer to it as "The Others".
The Others appear as people you know. This foreign creature has the ability to completely take over the body of its victims. When taken, the victim is completely consumed, inside and out, by spores ejected from the Other's tendrils. All that remains is the original brain and a portion of the spinal column. A newly created Other immediately gains awareness of its brethren and is compelled to carry out the same goal: hunt other beings, isolate them, and consume them.
An Other is composed of an alien fungal material. It can rapidly change itself to look exactly like the victim it has taken over. The substance can transform into any form of clothing or armor it has studied during the process of devouring its victim. In addition, the fungus learns the patterns of behaviour and memories of its victim, allowing it to perform an almost perfect imitation. There are a few limitations to its mimicry. When attacked or agitated, an Other will be compelled to reveal its true form. An Other cannot cast magical spells of any kind, for those spells are powered by the soul's connection to sources of our own realm.
The Others seem to prefer dark places and will start to seek them out. When viewed in broad daylight, an imitation appears to have waxy skin that seems slightly translucent. It is very hard to notice by an untrained eye. The creatures also seem to be weakened by sunlight.
The Others don't usually attack outright. Despite their strength, they prefer to infiltrate communities through careful stalking. Once they have assimilated someone, they will leverage that person's relationships and seek out potential victims who will trust the replaced individual. In this way, The Others carefully divide and devour. The speed of the transformation is terrifying. When you are hunted by an Other, you can't allow your friends out of your sight for even a few minutes. They could be replaced by then.
All that is known of the goals of this alien mind is that it desires to hunt and spread. It would be tempting to think of it as a sort of primitive fungal growth given its use of spores and hivemind directives. The truth is, its real motivations are unknown. Unimaginable, even. They will usually remain silent hunters and yet sometimes groups of Others will simultaneously reveal themselves with no apparent provocation. Their advance across civilization could be catastrophic, and yet they weirdly stop spreading at unpredicable times. There are even some rumours which claim that victims whisper a strange word at the moment they become assimilated. These behaviours are not consistent with typical fungi.
The only way to know for sure would be to become an Other, and then somehow communicate the mission back to an unchanged being. An impossible task. There is no known method, magic, or technology to restore someone. Once you are consumed by The Others, you are lost forever.
Written by Giles Ravensong.