The trick was to forget each new horror as soon as it happened. It was easier than it sounded; the human brain is not designed to comprehend what Tobias was sensing. If he let it slide past him, no piece would be left behind for his mind to worry and scratch at. Well, there would still be some, but humanity long ago adapted to enduring chronic pain. He remembered impressions, though – and that was almost-literal; where the monster touched his psyche, it left bruises behind, and those he could understand. The monster was malevolent, and it was also horribly intelligent, in a distinctly anti-human manner. It was not until now that Tobias truly understood what the word ‘alienation’ meant: he had never before been able to compare his own situation with something so profoundly the Other. Even its malevolence was unlike anything he had ever felt before, subtly wrong and insistent in ways that mere human evil could not aspire to.

But alienation went both ways.

The monster could perceive his own memories, and promptly began to tear through them. Tobias thought it even enjoyed the revulsion that perception triggered in him. But what it could not do was understand the memories, or not fully. He could feel its patient bafflement as it contemplated his memories of geometry class; its grasp of space-time was capable of distinguishing between there and not-there, and that only barely. The thought would have cheered him, except that he was no longer feeling any emotions at all.