strangers: mosaics
creator
Nove NuVonde
class
valetudinary
disposition
phlegmatic
height
9 ft, 2 in
length
34 ft, 5 in
weight
11.3 lbs
size variance
2%
I.Q.
707,073
core temp.
33°F
stability
97%
prevalence
(see entry)
constancy
14%
longevity
1,008 years
no. appearing
1
vision type
near-far
language family
inarticulate/resonant
physical appearance

The helminderi (hɛlmɪn'deri) is a lissome stranger with a tall posture and serpentine proportions. Its color is off-white, just on the edge of grey, and is contrasted by its strikingly intense lips upon a narrow snout. Its dusty skin is comparable to an aging rubber band in texture, thickness, and elasticity, and its odor in turn, while faint, is unpleasantly aged and burnt. Although only ever opening its mouth at a maximum angle of 3°, making it impossible to see inside under normal conditions, 49.77% of helminderi have a yellow oral cavity, while those remaining are bright cyan.

It heals even small scrapes at a rate that spans many months, during which time it may use available human implements such as loose nails to keep its soft skin held together. Its slightly damp, spongy flesh has a color contingent upon the color of its mouth, and does not heal but instead dries up at the sites of cuts and tears. Its central cavity is filled with a viscous magenta fluid that is just-so-slightly lighter than air, and so at the site of especially deep gashes it trickles up and drifts lazily into the atmosphere.

The helminderi has a quiet, droning voice1 that originates from a point at the back of its throat, very nearly inorganic in its beeps and hums, but still human.

1.
"-IRRITATING
-COLD
-VESTIGIAL"
Zener, Brittany. personal notes, volume 8, 78

0.23% of helminderi generate with teardrop markings. These "repentant"2 individuals display no other notable differences from their contemporaries.

2.
[several lines of illegibly scratched out writing]
"JUST FORGET IT"
Zener, Brittany. personal notes, volume 8, 79
environment and generation

The helminderi is an unusually rare stranger. It can only appear in cities already beset3 by its preceding strains: the helmintrobi, helminturi, and helmindroni. As such, the environmental conditions necessary for all three are inherently required for its generation, on top of its own needs.

3.
"-SICK
-DOWNCAST
-VIOLENT
-FINALE"
Zener, Brittany. personal notes, volume 8, 291

Otherwise, it appears atop non-residential buildings more than sixty-one feet tall. A flat, livable roof is necessary, making buildings with domed or decorative tops unsuitable. It is further attracted to near-white surfaces, particularly those previously brighter but dirtied by age and neglect. In these places, on overcast mornings, it pours into the world first as a brilliant white, cord-like rubber string. As the day progresses, it slowly fills and greys, becoming fully animate just before nightfall.

The helminderi's appearance and maturation completes what is known as a "full suite". Because of the requirements and statistical improbability of all four strains successfully generating, cities possessing a full suite in this manner are extremely rare. A full suite allows                                                
                        final tyrant.4

4.
[several lines of failed attempts to transcribe a barcode-like sequence]
"ALMOST"
Zener, Brittany. personal notes, volume 8, 291
behaviour and effects

The helminderi's mood is unrelentingly dour and bored, finding no pleasure in its long life nor the many ways it chooses to pass such a vast stretch of time. It spends most of its day at rest, sitting with a hunched posture as it taps its fingers on the ground and occasionally stretching its long neck over the edge of its territory to look down upon the world below with lackluster indifference. When not sitting, it paces the perimeter of its roof in rectangular paths, walking only for the sake of walking to pass the long hours of the day. It does engage in some limited tidying behavior, seeking out scraps of garbage and tossing them over the edge, but holds no fondness or dedication to this activity. For very rare, specific objects, it may briefly show an inkling of interest, but just as quickly loses such a minor fascination and acts as though offended it could have ever considered them worth its attention. When it throws these items down, it is with a hint of the only emotion it can readily express—disgust.

The helminderi's true voice becomes audible when brought within fifteen feet of any electronic device capable of producing sound. This can range from as obvious as a cell phone or radio to as unexpected as a talking doll or toy piano, and it broadcasts from all available devices at once. Thus, a helminderi near many of these mouthpieces can become unexpectedly noisy and cause ear strain following prolonged exposure. It speaks constantly and without pause, listing mostly randomly selected nouns and adjectives in the most commonly spoken language of the area, though occasionally speaking in non-local languages or assembling fabricated words from locally common syllables.5 There is little variation in voices between individuals, all speaking in a similar robotic tone of indefinite gender.

5.
"-VINDICATE
-青い
-OMEGA
-LADRÓN
-UNCOMFORT
-CHARLIE
-VICTOR
-ENNETRE
-QW"
Zener, Brittany. personal notes, volume 3, 964

Sporadically, it may focus on and target more distant electronics, especially drawn to moving vehicles with functional radios. Once focused, it broadcasts one to two words from its stream of conversation. These events are so brief that an inattentive listener may not even notice, and as the helminderi's voice cannot be recorded, it further eludes proof of its meddling.

interactions with sensitives

The helminderi's broadcasting effect extends to sensitives, who find themselves involuntarily compelled to speak as another one of the stranger's many mouthpieces. It talks regardless of the sensitive's own dialect and native language, and thus does not struggle with sounds the speaker may have otherwise had difficulty voicing6, such as rolling r's or interdental fricatives. Besides this mildly irritating effect, however, the helminderi holds no further power over intruders, and those susceptible are free to leave its radius of effect at any time to stop the interference.

6.
"-THOROUGH
-LOCH
-RURAL"
Zener, Brittany. personal notes, volume 3, 964

Sensitives who are mute or otherwise verbally restricted in some way do not speak imperfectly, nor do they silently mouth these words. Instead, they are unaffected in full.

Besides this effect, the helminderi is entirely disinterested in sensitives. It moves away with disdain at a casual pace when within reaching distance, and growls irascibly when touched, even with kind intent. It is not a fragile stranger, but is too lackadaisical to resist attack, and so can easily be destroyed by even a weak sensitive.

aging and death

The eventual passing of the helminderi is a slow, ongoing process that takes multiple years to finally terminate. It goes numb in its extremities and the tipmost point of its snout first, an affliction that does not perturb the stranger itself. Eventually, its wrists become slack, and its tail gradually goes from the end up. At last, its face is paralyzed, an almost imperceptible change in a naturally unemotive strain, and soon after the neck goes as well. When it can only drag its limp body lifelessly behind it on wobbly legs, it finally lies down and voluntarily dies7, released at last from the tedium of existence.

7.
"CONCLUSION: ANOTHER FAILURE
NOTHING LEFT TO LEARN
I'M GIVING UP"
Zener, Brittany. personal notes, volume 8, 723

Its ragged skin sloughs off quickly, revealing a now dried out core. As this tissue crumbles and sunbleaches over time, its internal cavity slowly drains of fluid, drifting unhurriedly into the sky to never be seen again.