Sonnet of the Deep

July 19, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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Kevin found it in his grandparent’s scummy old pond. He’d been chaining a pack of ten and watching the butts drift across the nebulous waters when he spotted it; dark and flat, floating motionlessly on the surface. Had it been there a moment ago? He must have missed it. Either way, it certainly wasn’t a piece of broken fence or a branch. There was no telling what that crazy bitch had thrown into the pond before she went AWOL. It could be something valuable.

He snatched up a long-handled net leaning against the nearby fence and fished the object out of the water. It was a box.

The surface was slick with slime and algae and the keyhole was clogged with silt and dirt, but he thought the craftsmanship looked fine nonetheless and decided to work on opening it later, providing the hinges weren’t rusted shut. He would have asked the old woman about it, but obviously that wasn’t possible: his grandmother was gone, most likely dead. He thought her only neighbour probably was too, judging by the dilapidated state of the only other house he’d passed on his way here. The damn roof had collapsed in on itself, for fuck sake.

Running the pads of his fingers across the box’s surface, he thought: I’ll ask granddad next time I visit, if I can get a sane word out of the old relic.

But he only visited the Blackwood Home, with its grimy walls, grim faced orderlies and iodoform scented corridors once a year – and only then if he could help it.

He hoped the old man would die soon; thirty miles was a hell of a trip to make every July. More to the point, he supposed, was that he was scared. Scared that one year, he would arrive with his customary cheap card and even cheaper present, only to find the old sailor lucid enough to ask him about that night. About the break in, and the masked intruder who had beaten an old woman unconscious before stomping on an old man’s head until it cracked like a rotten egg, until pieces of brain were splattered all over the linoleum like yesterday’s porridge.

Or ask him how the intruder had known to look for their jewellery and cash in the nook beneath the kitchen sink.

His grandmother had disappeared shortly afterwards, vanishing without even a single goodbye. Only now, seven years on, had she finally been declared dead in absentia.

He stowed the box in his backpack alongside the few odds and ends he’d found that looked remotely valuable: a gold (he didn’t know if it was real, though) plated fountain pen engraved with a date – 13-07-83 – that was meaningless to him; a pale-skinned porcelain doll in a frilled baby-blue dress with dirty golden ringlets, which he’d wrapped in an old t-shirt to hide its unerring grin; an elaborate silver frame containing a photograph of all the grandchildren and the smiling grandparents – he’d thrown the photograph away. There were other things, as well, but he wasn’t sure if they would be worth anything, and as such hadn’t bothered with them.

Mostly the house had been crammed with junk, sentimental shit acquired during his granddad’s naval career: boxes and boxes of washed-out photographs; amateur oil paintings of ships and lighthouses and anchors; pieces of driftwood lashed together and mounted on the walls; coils of rope thicker than Kevin’s leg; an enormous rusted anchor in the basement. How the latter had found its way through the narrow doorway and down the rickety flight of stairs, he didn’t know. His Nikes were still damp from slogging around up to his ankles in water while he was down there. Fucking foundations were probably subsiding by now.

A bird cawed overhead, snapping Kevin from his thoughts. He ran a tattooed hand across his shaved head, which was dripping with sweat. There was nothing else out here. He headed inside to dry out his shoes and eat. As he crossed the threshold, he thought he saw a drape in the hall twitch, and the scent of iodine seemed to linger in the air. But of course, that wasn’t possible, and seconds later the smell was gone.

~

Kevin was slouched in his granddad’s high-backed chair next to the patio doors with his muddy boots – he’d changed out of his Nikes – propped on the once-pristine coffee table and a greasy slice of pizza dripping between his fingers. Old sea charts and framed navigational maps, cracked and yellowing with faint blue ink barely visible, adorned every wall. A brazen brass telescope was mounted above the empty fireplace, and a score of wooden ships dotted the mantle. Pieces of rigging hung from the low ceiling, and fat black spiders made their homes amidst the dark wooden joists.

The whole place stank of salt and damp wood, and the wooden fishermen in every room, with their pointed beards and jovial eyes, were downright spooky. He’d turned three of them around to face the wall already, but there were dozens he’d missed. Mildew ran rampant in the corners and dark places of the house. He hadn’t expected to find any medals; he knew they’d all been revoked following the old man’s dishonourable discharge. Kevin didn’t really know all the details, nor did he care to. A bound man thrown into the Atlantic, another drowned just off the coast of China and a third keel hauled halfway across the Baltic Sea. His granddad had been implicated in all three, alongside six other men, although none of them had ever been formally charged. The whole thing had been swiftly hushed over.

Probably the old man got what he deserved. Unlike me, Kevin thought. So far, I’ve got shit all.

And that was when he remembered the box. He rummaged through the backpack with his free hand, upturning a nearby vase filled with wilted daffodils with his elbow before his fingers closed around the slimy surface.

He was still scraping the last of the muck from the lid using a blunted knitting needle some time later, when the last rays of the setting sun reflected off the pond’s surface, staining the garden an ominous reddish-bronze. The box was much more detailed than he’d first thought; it was definitely worth something. The sides were etched with waves and whirlpools of the minutest detail, from which vague suggestions of great serpents and other beasts emerged. And once the lid was fully uncovered, it proved equally breathtaking.

A raging tempest, painfully detailed, littered with hundreds of shattered galleons. In the centre, blackness: a perfectly circular piece of dark stone set into the wood. Kevin ran his fingers across it – it was cool to the touch, surprisingly so.

Still, there remained the problem of opening it. Kevin knew that he could force it, but that risked damaging the box and its contents. Because the box was heavy; it had real weight to it. There was something in there. He’d get some rest for half hour or so, and then have a look around for the key. Tilting his head back, he shut his eyes and drifted off to sleep.

~

Kevin dreamed of waves. He was adrift in a tiny rowboat on a black ocean that extended as far as he could see in every direction. Dark clouds scudded across the sky, and thunderheads the colour of bruises grumbled ominously. But wait, that was wrong. The ocean wasn’t black. There was something moving beneath his boat, an unimaginable mass that darkened the water and roiled the surface.

He felt the boat rise beneath him, and he was pitched backwards into the abyssal waters. He was sinking, sinking, sinking to the depths. And something was moving down there, rushing through the darkness towards him. He opened his mouth to scream and the water poured in.

~

The bright, white light hurt his eyes. Kevin blinked like a mole dazzled by a torch, and then the world swam into focus. He was hunched over in front of the tiny window in the attic, affording him a perfect view of the moonlit garden and the mirrored surface of the pond. Strange, how it looked so much bigger from up here; so much more…oceanic.

What the fuck was he doing up here anyway? And what was that noise?

Dee-dum-di-dum-dum-dee

A soft, mournful tinkling, like putting your ear to a seashell or standing on the deck of a fishing boat in a light autumn rain; it was beautiful, yet it chilled him to his very core.

Dee-dum-di-dum-dum-dee

The box lay open at his feet, illuminated in a small pool of moonlight. The inside was a single compartment of plain wood, completely devoid of any carvings or images. Something silver was rotating slowly in the center. He reached for it with a shaking hand, and that was when the surface of the pond began to move.

A score of ripples spread across the still waters. A huge mass began to coalesce, moving sluggishly beneath the surface. Something sleek and dark broke the surface, lashing out and decapitating a nearby stone cherub.

Kevin watched transfixed as a smaller shape crawled forth from the water, moving with hunched deliberation across the lawn. The moonlight threw too many details into stark clarity; blackened skin like worn leather, bedraggled wisps of hair; sagging, lichen-covered breasts and arthritic hands curled into claws.

His grandmother stopped next to the headless cherub and looked up at the window, her eyes flaring with a hellish intensity, and smiled. Her teeth were mossy gravestone nubs. The wrinkled grey flesh of her thighs gave way to yellowing bone. Long silvery worms slithered through the hollow places of her body, and something many-legged and glistening emerged from a hole in the side of her skull and skittered sideways across her chest. Something that looked like a starfish clung to the side of her neck. But starfish didn’t have mouths bulging with razor sharp fangs.

She crooked a gnarled finger at him. Come on down, sonny. Let’s have us a little chit-chat by the water’s edge.

Dee-dum-di-dum-dum-dee

Behind her, the pond had swollen to monstrous proportions, the banks having long since fallen away. Water was spilling across the grass and onto the patio, jetting forth in geysers from the rapidly collapsing lawn. The sort of fish he’d seen on Discovery’s deep sea programs were floundering on the grass: phosphorescent and eyeless, utterly hideous. A crab the size of an Alsatian scuttled across the lawn and disappeared into the shrubbery.

The night itself seemed to take a deep breath, and the stars were snuffed out like so many tiny candles. Something gargantuan beyond comprehension broke the water’s surface. Piscine and loathsome, it bellowed in atavistic rage. The sound was deafening, like a blast from a ship’s horn. He had the sense of something crossed between an octopus and a dinosaur. No, that wasn’t right. The anatomy was all wrong.

He felt his mind slipping away like an eel between his fingers. This couldn’t be happening. He was dreaming. That was it. Of tentacles thicker than tree trunks and long spindly arms, at least three times the length of a stallion’s foreleg and ending in webbed claws the size of car bonnets.

Then the poignant tang of iodine once more filled his nostrils, and he knew he wasn’t dreaming. Something shuffled across the floorboards behind him. Wet breathing, coming in short shallow gulps like a fish out of water, and the squeak of rusty casters across rough wood.

The horror outside seemed to grow dim as Kevin turned to face his granddad. The old man’s piss stained hospital johnny fluttered in the draft from the window, exposing the wrinkled flesh of his thighs and buttocks. An IV pole trailed behind him, the bags deflated and crumpled. Tubes hung like transparent veins from his forearms.

Despite everything that was happening – and just how the hell had the old man gotten out? – Kevin found his eyes immediately drawn to the side of his granddad’s head: the side that was misshapen and crumpled, like a trodden on tin can. There was no guilt: only remorse.

He should have done things properly. He should have hit him harder. He should have fucking killed him.

Kevin stumbled to his feet as his granddad advanced across the cramped attic. And the old man was grinning, his saturnine features more animated than Kevin had seen them in all the years he’d visited him at the Blackwood Home. There he’d merely lain motionless and slack-jawed, drooling into a pillow that Kevin longed to hold over his face and shitting himself on an hourly basis.

There was water dripping through cracks in the roof now, and Kevin became aware not only of a sudden sense of scrutiny, but of an enormous pressure bearing down upon him, a tidal wave crashing over a coastal city, a force of incomprehensible enormity.

The grinning spectre before him fell to its knees with a sickening crack, sending the IV pole clattering across the floor. Splinters of bright white bone jutted from the old man’s kneecaps.

Somewhere in the gloom, the music box continued to sing its funereal song.

Dee-dum-di-dum-dum-dee

For a second, Kevin could have sworn he heard waves crashing against the side of the house.

And then the light disappeared. The room was engulfed in darkness, total and complete, and he found himself unable to see further than the tip of his nose. He could hear the old man’s laboured breathing, moving closer now. The sickly sweet stench of rotten gums and decaying teeth filled his nostrils, accompanied by the grate of bone against wood.

In desperation he whirled towards the window. And discovered why the world had gone dark.

The thing from the deep opened a cyclopean eye, and the attic was bathed in ultramarine.

His granddad, from the darkness, a rasp more like a rusted chain being lowered than a human voice: ‘…et akhlish… Nisroch… chtulzra dhrazgh et Nisroch boolusch…’ This was followed by a wheezy chuckling, a sound like water on the lung.

Then the roof exploded in a shower of tiles and wood, drowning out the guttural intonation, and an unimaginable pressure seized Kevin about the waist. His ribs snapped like matchsticks as he was lifted into the air. Red water spread across his vision. Only it wasn’t water, it was blood.

Through a haze of scarlet, he beheld a maw dripping with brine that was large enough to swallow an estate car and change. The stench was almost as overpowering as the pain crushing his torso, a thousand dead gulls rotting beneath the summer sun.

There was water everywhere, gushing from the pond at an impossible rate, and the garden now looked more like a small lake. Through a curtain of pain he could vaguely discern his grandmother scaling the thing’s vast body like a withered brown spider.

Kevin understood, in his final moments, that there was truly a God. But He didn’t love, and He certainly didn’t forgive. He was an old God. A God of the deep, whose fury against those above would be both beautiful and terrible to behold.

He was death.

Kevin’s shoulders dislocated with twin pops, and waves of searing agony rushed over him. Then he was gone, lost in pain and darkness. He died slowly. He died without hope.

~

Nisroch dropped the shattered human into the rushing water, threw back its head and roared with the wind. Rain poured from the sky, a hammering deluge that would, in the weeks to come, become a global catastrophe. One of the Seven walked the earth once more, and it would bring with it an ocean unending and suffering unbound.

Rain poured through the space where the attic roof had been, beating a relentless tattoo against the wooden floor. A torrent of water smashed through the patio doors, flooding the lower floor of the house and gushing out into the road. And amidst it all, the music box continued to sing.

Dee-dum-di-dum-dum-dee

Credit To – Tom Farr

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Bound

July 18, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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Thunder crackles loudly outside, as lightning flashes, each burst briefly illuminating the library in a shocking, intense light. The archaic structure is pelted by wave after wave of torrential rain. Winds bellow against the building, threatening to tear the entire structure down. No sane person would dare brave this weather just to read some old, musty books.

But here I am.

The metal doorbell clangs as I enter the library, alerting my presence to absolutely no one. The place is empty, just as expected. I assume it will remain that way for the rest of my shift. I don’t even know why the administrators bother to keep the library up and running this late into the night. The only person here this late at night is the librarian, and tonight that librarian is me.

I make my way to the main desk. The librarian’s counter is stationed at the far end of the library. Every step I take causes creaks in the hardwood floor that reverberates throughout the entire building.

Creak. Creak. Creak. Creeaaaaaak.

I stop in my tracks, and the noise continues echoing along in the cavernous library. It’s strange, but the sound is not in tune with my steps. I take time to check the aisles and the reading areas, wary of the steps I take, but no one is here. Not a single soul reading books, using the computers or otherwise lurking about. I guess it is just the wood swelling from the rain or some squeaky, old, floorboards. I can’t help but laugh at my bewilderment.

The short walk serves to confirm my isolation in the library, though. Even Alex isn’t here, I guess he left his shift early. I can’t really blame him. Between the gothic construction, the dim lighting and the emptiness, the library is the perfect mix of haunted mansion and horror movie set. No amount of funding or high tech workstations can erase this ancient vibe.

Coupled with the storm, there is absolutely no good reason to stay and supervise this empty, cavernous library. But I can’t let a little spooky ambiance scare me away from a paycheck; that’d be irrational. The job isn’t so bad. Once I finish all my work, I can always study for my classes the next day. The computers here are lot faster than my laptop, making this very convenient.

The desk is a mess. I know Alex is a lazy slob, but I figure he would at least make an attempt to do his job properly before leaving early. Books are scattered all over the desk and counter. Some are even on the floor, facedown, spines wrinkled and pages folded. A few minutes later, the books are all stacked on the table, ready to be put back in their respective aisles.

I take a moment to marvel at my work.

Creak. Creak. Creak.

I guess I was wrong. Someone is in the library, each creaking step confirming the fact. Maybe I didn’t check hard enough. Anyway, that is signal enough to continue working or at least, look like I am. I gather up the books and place them on the cart, beginning the dull job of returning them to their shelves. As I place book after book on the shelves, I can’t help but wrinkle my nose. It’s slight, but I know my imagination can’t be so powerful as to just conjure it up. It’s the smell of fish, fish that has been rotting in stagnant water for days.

I wonder if the other guy can smell it too and feel embarrassed if he does. Still, I am a librarian, not a janitor. My job is done, and I figure I could start on the philosophy essay I have due next week. I boot up the computer and as the familiar Windows start-up tune plays, I notice the book. It’s placed on the corner of my desk, standing up on its bottom edge. Strange, I swear I didn’t leave any books behind. Stranger still, it is a stripped book; it has no cover. Technically, it is illegal to own one, as books are usually stripped to be pulped and recycled. Perhaps the guy who entered thought he could leave this here as a donation?

I can still hear creaking in the distance. He must still be here. If I run into him, I’ll be sure to ask. I grab the book. The pages are clearly old, crisp and yellowed. There is no indication whatsoever of what the book is or who wrote it. Not exactly excited to start my essay, I begin reading it.

“This book is all that remains of H.C….”

What a coincidence. My name is Harvey Cooper. I laugh.

“…who was flayed alive on the Seventeenth Day of September.”

I humor the book and check today’s date. My heart jumps, a feeling like falling when you’re just about to sleep, an involuntary twitch that jolts you awake.

“He is this book in its entirety. May you be connected with him through its touch.”

A chill runs down my spine, but I still can’t suppress a chuckle. It is just a book after all, whatever is written here is probably just sheer coincidence. I just hope the coincidences end there.

Each turn of the page dissipates whatever hope I have bit by bit. Each page I read sinks my gut a little bit deeper. The hairs on the back of my neck threaten to rip away from my skin. This is all too chilling, too coincidental. The first chapter begins with the first time I decided to work here, back when I was a freshman some three years ago.

It starts with my first day of work, exploring the library, organizing books and meeting Gertrude, the senior librarian. The book even describes what I thought of Gertrude; what I think of her overt enthusiasm, how it borderlines into a creepy neediness. I am absolutely certain I’ve told no one about that. Every chapter details a portion of my life since then, down to the smallest detail.

I don’t know what was worse, the fact that my life has been written here or the fact that this is all written in a third person perspective, that of an omniscient, ever present observer. The writing grows cryptic as the chapters progress; details irrelevant to my life are interspersed between every paragraph. Thunder continues booming outside, uncaring of my predicament. The lights start to flicker ever so slightly, making it even harder to read the chicken scratch handwriting.

What scares me most though is that this book is not more than a few hundred pages. Considering the pages I’ve read and how much of my life has already been detailed, I assume the worst. I fumble through the pages, desperately seeking how the last chapter will play out. I scan through paragraphs that detail everything up until this day, sweaty palms dampening the outermost pages of the tome.

The last pages are empty. I flip through them, making sure I didn’t miss anything. Nothing, not a single word beyond me picking this book up. I feel my heart pump in my chest and sweat bead down my temple. This must all be a cruel joke. That’s the only thing it could be, right?

I can hear the stranger’s footsteps in the distance. The stench of fish still wafts heavily in the air, seeping into every breath I take, churning my already weak stomach.

Ring.

It’s the doorbell. I don’t think anyone else would enter the library this late at night, so it could only mean one thing: the stranger is leaving. He is the only one who could explain this book. He is the one responsible for this. I run towards the entrance. My boots pound down on the hardwood, each step booming, like the thunder outside.

As I run, the doorbell continues ringing; the clanging of the bell produces a chaotic melody with the chorus of thunder. The creaking in the library gets louder and more frequent, all of the sounds blending into a cacophonic dissonance. Everything climaxes into a harsh crescendo, a terrible symphony orchestrated by storm and fear. Distracted, I don’t hear the lumbering monster creep up behind me nor expect the heavy blow that takes my consciousness.

My head throbs, waves of pain shooting throughout my body. I can still smell the all too familiar stench of rot and, strangely, musty paper. The odor only serves to exacerbate my pain. My eyes are blurred, hazy figures and indistinct objects filling my vision. I try rubbing them, but my arms are paralyzed, immobile. Thick leather belts hold them in place, old supple leather beginning to rub my skin raw. To my horror, my legs are similarly restrained. I struggle vainly against the restraints, until I realize I am not alone in the room.

He sits at the corner of the room, writing under the luminescence of a dying light bulb. His hands are a flurry of disgusting movement. They are like gnarled branches, knotted at the joints with the rigidity of bark. The cracks and groans of abused ligaments and joints are audible through the furious scratching of pen on paper. It is like the buzzing of hornets, an aggressive and foreboding white noise, made even worse knowing that he is writing in my book. The coverless pages lay flat and wrinkled on the table, squished under his forceful writing.

I try to call out to him. I plead, I beg. My throat tears at my screams. I cry out words with increasing volume and desperation until my voice begins to wane. I can taste iron on my dry tongue, as specks of blood shoot out of my mouth. I try to scream louder hoping someone might save me, but mere silence escapes my gaping mouth. There is no reaction from him. There is only the persistent sound of words being written on paper.

It is no use. He has the pen, and I am his story. His shadow, a distorted projection of his monstrous silhouette, dances against the flickering bulb. As he continues, one thought lingers:

How does he want my story to end?

Harvey screams. He cries. He pleads. It does me no pleasure to hear his voice torn raw by his anguish. He uses words to try and delay his inevitable demise, but alas, words are what bind him to his fate.

The futility of his begging causes Harvey to seek other means to survive. Bound to the table, he looks desperately around the room. He sees the multitudes of leather bound books. Hundreds and thousands of volumes fill the room, the smell of ancient pages and deteriorating binding creating an oppressive and suffocating atmosphere. He sees vats of unknown liquid, dust obscuring the contents inside. He smells smoke above the multitude of odors and sees a cauldron, black and clearly well used, hanging above glowing embers. He sees needles, spools of string and various wooden instruments, tools so mundane that it sticks out in the eerie dungeon.

Yet, these are not what catch his attention.

His eyes lock on his friend, Alex, who stares blankly into the ceiling, mouth agape, eyes frozen in a silent expression of fear. His stripped body is crumpled awkwardly atop a rack, his skin stretched and rendered of fat and flesh. It still drips with soap and water, the skin cleaner than it ever was alive. His face is now a hollow mockery of who he once was, flat and deflated, contorted in the final terrifying moments of his life.

All color drains from Harvey’s face. He does not understand. The shock is too much to handle; his psyche shatters like broken glass. His head drops in resignation, its weight hanging heavily on his neck. He does not notice me rise slowly from my chair, nor does he notice my laborious approach.

A quick and decisive flick of the wrist severs his throat, a movement perfected and well practiced. The claws cut deep and his clothes are dyed a deep shade of crimson. Harvey struggles to glance up through the pain and blood loss, taking one last glimpse of his captor. His eyes betray one final wave of terror and regret before going blank, the last vestiges of his life slowly dripping from his throat.

The creature carefully stretches the new hide on the rack, handling it like a mother placing her baby in a crib. It has been removed perfectly, artfully. The skinning done as easily as peeling a banana. The hide glistens with fat and blood, impurities and imperfections that must be cleansed. His brain boils in the cauldron, the solution to soak the soft flesh.

The corpse is left on the table, a lifeless husk left without skin. Like an anatomy chart, it displays every muscle and sinew with startling clarity, the skin so perfectly removed that whatever beneath is left intact. Its face is left in a macabre state, eyes wide in shock and mouth twisted in a toothy grin. The corpse’s limbs have stiffened, the cadaver now a grotesque mannequin.

The ancient creature then grabs an older hide, now brown and leathery. It cuts and snips the material, a procedure it has done thousands of times. It cuts the leather into practiced dimensions. Its ancient joints fold and clamp, the binding perfect, symmetrical.

The creature looks at what once was the face of the victim. Empty holes stare back at it. It takes the ghoulish mask and wraps it neatly across the front of the book, folding and gluing and clamping it in place. The edges are sewn to secure the binding. The needle dips in and out at half inch intervals, threading thin cordage made from sinew.

It places the book among countless others on the shelf. It sits and begins to write once more.

Ring.

Gertrude, enters the library, the familiar scent of old and musty books immediately filling her nose. She notices the silence in the library, the stillness. The strange odor of rotting fish creeps up, subtle and quickly dissipating. She reaches her desk and finds it organized, the books returned and filed correctly. Harvey was always a good worker.

She sighs, and knows she’ll have to find more help yet again. She’s old now. She wonders how much of her book has yet to be written.

Credits to Nadia (for the creepypasta prompt), Noothgrush, and Ecuinach The Liar

Credit To – Urich Victorino

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The Bum

July 15, 2014 at 12:00 PM
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It will happen when you are alone. It can happen anytime, anywhere, it does not matter. You will be walking and will be in no great hurry. That is when you will meet him: The bum. The people who have met him have all described him with differing detail. Sometimes he is short, sometimes tall, sometimes of an average build. Sometimes he is old and fat and sometimes he is young and skinny. His age and appearance are of little circumstance as he is always a man of charisma. He will call out to you when you are walking. His voice will be charming and pleasant and if he should startle you, you will soon reconsider your fright. He is not aggressive, and he will not approach you. You must approach him. He will be wearing tattered clothes and will give you the impression that he is a homeless man down on his luck. In fact, it is you that will be down on yours when you meet him.

The man is witty, and knows himself to be so. He will grasp your attention with his charm and whatever thoughts you will have in your head previous to this encounter will be momentarily whisked away. He will proceed to introduce himself to you and will make pleasant small talk. You will not know it but he knows your life and your story. Talking to him will feel relieving, as if you are talking to your mother or a good friend. He will calm your anxieties, and with his wit and humour he will make you feel happiness. However, after a couple moments you will begin to wonder why he has called you to him and will wonder what he wants. He will begin to smile a clever grin and will instead inquire as to what it is you want yourself. This man, like most beggars and bums is in need, but his need is entirely in consequence to the needs of you. He will produce a match from his clothing or from whatever he is holding. He will strike it on a surface and its tip will flare a bright orange glow. The glow is entrancing and you will be drawn to its brilliant flame. The world around you will seem to fade away as you look into the blaze. The bum will speak to you, his face a shadow behind the flame in his outstretched hand. This is when it will begin. Amongst the fire in the match head, images will appear. They will be blurry but will still be easily recognizable. The sound accompanying the images will be faint and it will seem as if you are hearing it from under water.

In the match’s flame you will see the greatest pain that plagues you, and how it got to be there. You will relive the memories of that pain vividly, as if experiencing it again for the first time: A heart break, the death of a loved one, a rape, a mugging, a tragic accident… You will see the memory that is the most painful to you. You will act accordingly, with panic, anger, or sadness, but in the snap of his fingers the bum will put out the flame and you will be released into a calmer state. You will listen to his words as he consoles you with due diligence, and it is then that he will offer you a choice. The choice is perplexing, a choice like no other you have experienced before. He will ask you if you wish that painful memory of yours to be removed from existence, for it to never have happened. If you have lost your life to an alcohol addiction, he will make it so you would have never picked up a bottle. If you have lost a loved one to a car crash, he will make it so that they will have never been in that car in the first place. It will sound wonderful to you; your pain will be relieved in an instant, but it will come at a cost, for you see, what is taken must be given.

You cannot remove without adding something to fill the void. You can have your pain removed, but at the cost of inflicting it to others. If you lost your leg in a workplace accident, the bum can make it so this accident happened to another in place of yourself. If your spouse committed suicide at the end of a rope, the bum can trade your spouse’s spot on the rope with the spouse of another. The cost to this deal will mean nothing to you, as he will explain that if you accept his proposal you will be relieved of any memories of this event or any memories pertaining to the hardship he will solve. Thus, you must ask yourself if you wish to inflict pain to relieve yourself of it. It is a perplexing choice, one that you cannot comprehend the answer to if you are not in that moment, in front of the rag-clad bum and his smoking match. If you agree, he will answer to your command, and with a sinister smirk, will exchange what needs to be traded. However, if you decline his offer you will be persuaded to reconsider. He will tell you that there are no second chances, that this opportunity will never befall upon you again, and he is not lying. Forfeit this chance and you will never see this man again. If you insist upon abstaining the man will give you a cold and hard stare, his face changing from one of optimism and persuasion to one devoid of expression. He will stare at you for moments that will seem like hours, filling your mind with doubts of your conviction. For now, it is still not too late to change your mind. If, however, you remain persistent in your choice, the bum will merely flick the smoking match into the air and place its smokeless head back from where it came from. He will then depart in the opposite direction from which you came. He will walk slowly, as if unburdened by your choice. If you choose to follow him you will be ignored, and you will find that the moment your gaze departs from his body, he will have disappeared. If you chose this path and decline his offer, this will be the last you will see of him.

Credit To – 9753

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What You Don’t Know Won’t Kill You

July 15, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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Kenny, I’m so sorry. Please forgive your Erica. I made a terrible mistake and I’m sorry.

Kenny is my big brother and my best friend in the world. We have a history of exploring the Great Unknown that goes as far back as childhood. The places that terrified most kids always seemed to call out to us, demanding their secrets be uncovered by those worthy to know them. We ventured deep into the abandoned sewer tunnels of North Hill and listened to the songs of restless ghosts. In the haunted woodland burial ground near Oakland Cemetery we found unearthed human bones, which we gathered and laid to rest. We were the only ones who ever went into the basement of the abandoned house on Werther Avenue, where a child-eating demon supposedly lived; we found no demon, but we did find a thousand dollars in a satchel stashed under the boiler. We had many “expeditions”, and somehow Dad always found out about them and grounded us the moment we came home.

I suppose I believed that knowledge was a ward for fear. I explored to understand the things that scared me — to look them right in the eye and know they were harmless. My obsession eventually led me to Winterfield University’s archaeology department, and to the journal, and ultimately to the events of this past Friday which continue to drag me into tearful fits.

I don’t expect anyone will ever read these pages. I’m only writing to preserve my last ounce of sanity for a few more minutes. The sway of the boat and drumming of the rain on deck are maddening to my ears, and the cabin is so claustrophobic I think anyone would lose her mind sitting in here for two days even if she hadn’t experienced what I have.

I’ll be okay so long as it doesn’t speak again. It’s been quiet since yesterday morning.

*

The journal’s author was the late Professor Blake Deforest, a renowned archaeologist whose explorations netted him an impressive collection of Mesoamerican artifacts belonging to an unknown Indian tribe. I’d read only a little about him in my youth: an infamous thrill-seeker and opium addict better known for his eccentricity than his expertise.

The majority of his treasures are small basalt totems stylistically similar to many Olmec statues. They represent a three-armed (or three-legged?) serpentine creature resting on its coils. Its face is nothing but a titan set of jaws full of long, pointed teeth. An amber gemstone crowns each totem’s head like a crystal ball on a dais, the opaque core of which creates an omniscient eye that stares directly at you no matter where you stand. All the totems present a malicious grin as with the knowledge of some delightfully horrible secret.

Deforest built his estate on a little hill in the nameless swamp hugging the shores of Lake Hela. After stealing a certain artifact discovered on one of his expeditions — a valuable, fist-sized stone — he locked himself in the mansion and spent the last days of his life slipping into madness. On September 6th, 1889, Deforest put a revolver to his head and pulled the trigger, spattering fifty years of archaeological experience all across his study walls. Police reports detailed a pathetically hurried and disinterested investigation, probably because the county politicians wanted the raving drug addict to disappear as quickly as possible. The stolen relic was never recovered.

The house has had three occupants since then, one as recent as 1976. All committed suicide.

The last of Deforest’s kin recently donated the property to the university, giving us permission to loot everything inside. When I became the head of the archaeology department the dean granted me complete access to all of Deforest’s resources — including that God-forsaken journal — and commissioned me to clean out Deforest House. If he hoped I would find the missing relic in the process, he gave no sign of it: everyone is convinced it’s on a permanent tour of the black market.

The small leather-bound book chronicles life on the Deforest property right down to the construction of the house. Deforest frequently mentions the stone, christening it the “Eye” for reasons he never explains, and goes on and on about his eagerness to study it, his theories of its pre-Olmec origin, its brilliant sheen in the sunlight, and so on and so forth.

A block of fifteen pages has been torn from the journal. The remaining pages show the rapid decline of the author’s mental health: paranoid hallucinations and dream-visions what could only result from heavy drug abuse, and other random nonsense impossible to interpret like, “Forever wandering the Red Horizon, one with the desolation, where the Cosmic Watchers stir; hungry gods of the pit! Still they call to me!” By the last ten pages nothing is even legible. Blake Deforest recorded his final thoughts in erratic scribbles only a lunatic could decipher.

Which says a lot about me. It seems strange that no one else ever tried to translate that madman’s scrawls, which I did out of nothing more than curiosity. I picked out the phrase, “it now sleeps beneath the cellar’s earthen floor,” and deduced what had happened to the missing artifact.

*

I recruited six of my friends as menial labor, including my brother Kenny because no one makes me feel safer in dark and foreboding places. We rented two trucks and emptied the house over the course of three weeks: its vintage furniture, valuable paintings, and rare books now adorn our library (those that we didn’t hock for school funds, anyway).

The swamp offered little more than murky puddles and murkier ponds, with less than a square foot of solid ground for miles, so when the weather got nasty we set up camp in the house, which was always unnerving. The marshland forest coils around the property as if trying to hide it in shame; even though it’s only an hour away from town, it feels completely isolated from the rest of the world. The house’s exterior is unremarkable except for the twenty stone steps leading up the hill to the front porch. From the bottom of these steps the manor’s outline resembles a ziggurat.

On our first visit the interior was as inviting as a quaint New England hotel; now the only decorations left are rusted wall-lamps and shadows thick enough to wrap around your shoulders on a cold night. Its empty rooms and corridors twist and flex like the innards of a creature that spent its last moments writhing in agony. The shadows knead the halls into the demented sort found in a carnival funhouse, or stretch them so they seem to go on for miles.

The air became more difficult to breathe on each visit, which I blamed on the building’s location or its advanced state of decay, though neither explanation relaxed the hairs on the back of my neck. I was always comforted to find Kenny and the others equally spooked.

Our most recent trip was to have been the last, so we took Kenny’s cabin boat to cut our travel time in half. If only we hadn’t been so eager to hold that relic in our hands we might’ve bothered to check the fuel gauge before embarking: when I fled the house I used the last drop of gas starting her up, and have sat here helplessly ever since.

The cellar was a mine tunnel, or a mass grave in waiting: an earthen floor spanning ten-by-fifteen feet, earthen walls held together with warped wooden beams. Except for the splintered pile of lumber that once served as a staircase, the room was empty. Armed with spades and an electric lamp we dropped in and set to work, twenty-minute shifts, three diggers at a time.

Two minutes later our dig came to an abrupt halt when Kenny, who’d started digging at the center of the room, struck something hard and wooden. The seven of us converged on that spot and dug like maniacs, expecting to find a treasure chest containing the Eye. What we uncovered was a four-foot-wide iron-braced trapdoor set in a stone foundation.

We paused and scratched our heads a minute. The cellar’s true floor had been curiously hidden beneath a fourteen inch layer of tightly packed marsh soil — days and days of obsessive work on Deforest’s part. It suddenly occurred to me that the journal — that is, the pages I had access to — never mentioned the construction of anything below the first floor.

We spent two hours shaving the cellar floor of its earthy coat and turned up nothing else. By then we were exhausted and figured we’d investigate the trapdoor the next day. Naturally Kenny and I were the only ones looking forward to it: oppressive gloom aside, every detail of the Deforest property tickled us with nostalgia as if it were a living synopsis of our childhood adventures.

In the meantime the weather bordered on catastrophic. Gale force winds ravaged the trees as snarling black clouds gathered over the lake — sailing would have been suicide. We unraveled our bedrolls around the electric lamp, enjoyed a modest supper of rations and hot cocoa, and after a few ghost stories my party retired for the night.

I have no idea how long I slept before the house’s unnatural stillness crept into the parlor and shook me awake. I couldn’t shake the feeling that something in the shadows was watching us. Each time I closed my eyes I saw Deforest’s totems sitting expectantly on the museum’s shelf, staring perpetually. Sitting and staring and smiling.

Dragged on a leash by some greedy curiosity I crept through the black halls and back to the cellar, keeping the lantern off until I reached the trapdoor to avoid disturbing my sleeping friends. With some effort — less than I had expected — I pulled the heavy trapdoor open, gagging as the smell of putrid water assaulted me. Beneath it a stone staircase descended into darkness.

Bile burned my throat. And I started down.

*

The stairway descended about twelve feet before it leveled off and the crushingly narrow walls opened into a sub-cellar, or what I had assumed was a sub-cellar until I took those first few steps toward the center of the room. The chamber was circular, little more than fifteen feet in diameter and crafted from muddy stone bricks the size of cinder blocks. Water covered the floor — rank seepage from the marsh above. Hieroglyphic carvings decorated the walls from floor to ceiling, all savagely defaced and impossible to read.

A large, mildew-stained creature emerged from the darkness, tearing a scream from my chest before I realized the demon was made of basalt and not flesh. Its features were perfectly intact, but rather than squat on its snakelike hindquarters like its smaller kin at the museum, it sprouted from the wall to form a chilling altar similar to those found in La Venta. With a shudder I turned my attention from the beast to the marred hieroglyphs on the wall.

On one side of the chamber was a mural like those found in Egyptian tombs, carved rather than painted, rich with detail and still mostly intact. The mural was six-by-ten-feet and depicted — how to explain it? — two-dozen tiers stacked like the floors of a hotel, with each tier containing a world that I can’t adequately describe beyond vague, horrified summaries. Many were so alien they gave me chills: a liquid planet, a world broken into fragments floating in nothingness, and a flat, endless desert to name a few. I think the mural meant to suggest coexistence, but separated the layers for clarity’s sake.

The creatures inhabiting those realms were the stuff of childhood nightmares, drifting along without purpose or cannibalizing each other with relish as they reenacted the ghastly histories of their worlds. It’s like each was another failed attempt by God at creating indigenous life. And it baffled me: Deforest, that attention-loving explorer, had hidden away a priceless treasure trove of never-before-seen mythology with the hope that no one would ever find it.

Human shapes inhabited the pan-dimensional apartment complex’s central tier. The characters dressed in an Aztec-style (were the Mystery Indians their relatives?) and seemed to stand in for the human race as a whole, acting out each chapter of the species’s evolution: harnessing fire, building tools and houses, learning to farm and hunt, forming societies, waging war, finding God.

The final act of the story of Man stirred my insides with an icy ladle: a congregation of bald figures, priests most likely, lined up behind a more prominent bald figure who knelt beneath a round, blazing object — something reminiscent of Ra and his solar disk. This didn’t disturb me quite so much until I looked up and found the same figure in the desert world — the world placed reverently at the top of the mural — lacking the solar disk and kneeling before the serpentine triped of Deforest’s treasure trove.

From that point things took a turn for the horrific. The other worlds began to seep into Man’s realm: first only one or two curious creatures, crossing the dimensional borders, looking around, snatching up a random object or person; then the landscapes bled into each other in patches, and otherworldly fiends came in raiding parties. Humans were tormented, possessed, transformed, or dragged into the other worlds and eaten. The once barren desert realm became populated with hideous human shapes, a mockery of the ones in the human realm. Finally the tier borders melted away completely, the worlds merged and all existence was pandemonium.

I identified this as the Mystery Indians’ nightmarish rendition of Ragnarok: the tiers of existence collapse on one-another while an apathetic cyclopean god looks on and laughs. That didn’t account for the priests, though, lined up and waiting eagerly for their turn with the solar disk. Maybe it was a common thing. A ritual sacrifice to the cosmic watcher; one where the lambs couldn’t wait to throw themselves upon the knife, to spend eternity with their hideous god in a heavenly wasteland. I shuddered again at the thought.

So where had the Mystery Indians vanished to? The other Indians must have annihilated them for their blasphemous religion. I’d just begun to wonder how many had migrated to North America when my foot accidentally met with a small, hard object and sent it rolling several feet. My gaze fell to the floor and remained there for ten minutes.

I knelt and took the carelessly discarded relic in my trembling hands, holding it before my face like a dazzled child would a Christmas snow globe. It had a haunting beauty unlike any jewel I’d ever seen: three inches wide, colored like a dark Oktoberfest brew, smoother to the touch than ivory except where hieroglyphics scarred its surface. I knew by its opaque core that it was the Eye. Laughing, I returned the statue’s grin to thank it for its lovely gift.

It had changed. Its smile was broader, more elated. It seemed to lean forward eagerly.

As quickly as my euphoria had enveloped me it recoiled in horror. The Eye was translucent, but the image on the other side was wrong. I had to hold the relic to my face like a monocle just to be sure it wasn’t [rest of sentence is too scrawled to read]

Sorry for my handwriting. Keeping my pen in hand is becoming difficult. This is the first time I’ve ever tried to revisit what I saw, let alone put it into words. Many details refuse to fully surface as though I’d experienced it all in a drunken stupor, but a cruel few tower before my memory with monumental clarity.

*

Metaphors only scratch the surface. A fish torn from the sea and tossed into a dry Martian crater all in one horrible instant. I didn’t belong there. My existence in that place was a blasphemy to the natural order of the universe.

How long did I lie there? How many days curled into a trembling wad with my head buried in my arms, after realizing the Eye — my inter-dimensional doorway — had abandoned me, like the rest of the earth. Eventually I gathered my strength and stood up, if only because I didn’t know what else to do.

The nightmare landscape was cracked, mars-red, spread out over infinite space, endless in scope and perfect in flatness as far out as the horizon except for a single lonesome crag of reddish stone in the distance reaching miles into the sky. Toward this formation I walked as nihilism swallowed the last ounce of my spirit. In every other direction the word “direction” had no meaning.

My shoes left no prints: despite its brittle appearance the ground refused yielding to my weight as if every last grain were frozen in time. A khaki sky seared overhead, devoid of clouds and sun; yet everything was brightly lit with a retina-crushing amber tint. In spite of the glare I felt no heat. No heat, no cold, no wind. No atmosphere at all. I don’t recall having the need for breath except when sobbing hysteria overtook me. My loudest wail vanished shortly after leaving my diaphragm, without so much as an echo. An impossible atmospheric stillness like that in a bad dream. Even with my hands clasped over my ears the silence penetrated and induced the sort of madness that is only partly relieved by long, anguished screams.

A red stalagmite stood twelve meters to my left where once there had been nothing. Its shape twisted screw-like up from the ground, but rather than come to a point it swelled into a bulbous mass. It looked like the petrified remains of some unnamable organism.

Acknowledging the stone polyp caused more to appear. My eyes would pan to a new polyp only to notice another in their peripheral, until I found myself in the center of a disjointed circle of seven or eight. Each was twisted into a different amorphous shape, but all stood about six feet high. They didn’t burst forth from the ground, or drop from the sky, or form molecule by molecule before my eyes — they just suddenly were.

A hundred yards to the west, assuming the crag was north, something moved.

It likely appeared out of nowhere just like the stalagmites, and induced enough shuddering terror in me that I wished I hadn’t seen it at all: charred skin as black as ash, broom handle limbs carrying it with the grotesquely awkward steps of a marionette. Even from such a great distance I saw the empty holes where eyes used to be, and the face permanently shriveled and twisted in anguish. A millennium in hell couldn’t wear a human being into such a shape!

The broken man halted in mid-step and remained like a statue for several minutes. It turned its head until its empty eyes fell on me. It stood and stared and did nothing else.

I turned back toward the crag and walked faster in case the shambling thing decided to follow.

After three days of walking with no apparent need for rest, the crag now towered close enough that I could distinguish a narrow cave entrance at its base. More stone polyps had erected like carelessly scattered billboards along my path, and still more appeared whenever I blinked, or rubbed my face, or lost my grip on my emotions.

Then I made the mistake of looking over my shoulder. Only ten feet behind me, where once there had been nothing but stone polyps, a myriad of deathly thin nightmare figures stood staring at me. I never saw them take a step or even so much as twitch, yet no matter how long I walked, the distance between me and the colony of broken men remained constant. They kept a semicircular formation, curving inward toward me, herding me toward the great crag’s gaping mouth. I was too scared to think better of slipping inside to escape all those dreadful faces.

Details of the inside return to me in an earth-tone blur except for the hole cut into the ground at the center of the cave, circular and as wide as a house. The sounds from its throat commanded me to draw nearer until I stood teetering at its lip, gazing downward with streaming eyes and trembling breath.

That abysmal pit! It must have pierced right into the planet’s core! God, if you could have seen them slithering and writhing in that white magma, thousands bobbing shark-like to the surface and scaling the walls of the pit in unnatural flight! And I, the fearless explorer, just stood there and watched with stone legs. Stood and watched as the first one emerged and arched its colossal serpentine body forward to get a better look at me, its three giant talons straddling the pit’s mouth, twenty tendril-like tongues licking its fangs.

The thing spoke to me in an awful language of thunderous, droning notes I didn’t understand. The star hovering over its head reached its tainted gaze inside me and fanned through my every memory, every experience, every personal guilt like pages in a book. As it did I saw things I can barely put into words, like I’d tapped into its mind and shared its omniscience: time and space conjoined, spewing eons of existence in front of me simultaneously like so much junk on a flea market table. The universe cried out, peeled back like a scab and revealed a squirming mess of worlds overlapping like projector slides, and somewhere within that churning brew of slithering bodies and impossible landscapes I saw earth peeking out at me; glimpses of human beings going about their daily lives while oblivious to the horrors sharing their space in the universe. They walked through alien pillars as if they were illusions, across great rivers of acid as if they were asphalt, side-by-side with ungodly creatures as if they didn’t exist! A hundred coexisting worlds mortared with a thin sheet of tissue paper that could be ruptured with the tiniest glance.

The monsters can’t be accurately described with human language. Even the depictions in the mural do them no justice. I came within arm’s reach of a flying, tentacled horror the size of a bus drifting across a noxious, luminous valley of slime. It came to rest on a black stone-like protrusion that may have been a boulder or the rooftop of a sunken building. I seemed to hover over the fiend like a ghost, so close I could reach out and touch it if I dared.

It looked up, startled. It stared into my soul with forty squirming white tennis ball eyes. It saw me.

I started screaming.

I’d been screaming for several minutes before I realized I was sitting on the tomb’s wet floor with my empty hands outstretched. In my panic the relic had slipped from my earthly body’s grip and now rested on the floor just out of arm’s reach.

It was calling. The Eye commanded me to take it in my hands again. The statue sat gritting its teeth in an angry grimace, and almost imperceptibly the shadows began to move. Just outside the lantern’s failing glow the shriveled faces of six broken men glowered at me. Then the lantern went out.

Something grabbed at me in the dark that may have been real or imagined, and I scrambled up the stairs and out of the cellar, flinging the trapdoor shut behind me. Every animal in the swamp must have heard me as I dashed back to the parlor, crashing through doors and into walls, screaming Kenny’s name at the top of my lungs and growing more frantic when no one replied. All I needed was for Kenny to hug me and pat me on the head like he always did and tell me everything was all right. But when I had crept away from our camp, in the darkness I never noticed that the other six bedrolls lay open and empty — that I had awoken in that house alone.

The Eye had saved me for last.

*

It’s calling again. It’s so loud it hurts. It’s like an eel slithering inside my head and it’s furious.

stop please

The house is pulling me back like with a chain. God if you only knew what I know! The things it showed me! The things I still see! The things I saw in the swamp! I can’t go back, not through that swamp!

They’re drawn to me because I crossed the barrier. They can smell me. I saw the broken men wandering the marsh, flickering in and out of existence like the picture on a TV with bad reception. Sometimes one, sometimes ten. They see me and they try to drag me back to their masters. I always outrun them but they stay longer and longer. Maybe one of them is K–[remaining text violently scratched out]

I see other things, worse than the broken men. So much worse. They’re searching for me, too. Using me as a beacon. I locked myself in here and I haven’t moved since. I’m afraid to look out the windows and see them slithering about in the marsh. They’ll see me and they’ll come.

I don’t want to see them. I don’t want to know anymore. Deforest didn’t want to know. He didn’t want anyone to know.

get out of my head

I cant go back It’s angry that I fled and if I go back I don’t know what it will do to me I don want to go back please whoever finds this please bury that room bury it so no one can find it don let it take you to that awful place

ragnarok

put the barrel in your mouth it’s the only answer but is so heavy

put the barrel in your mouth you coward

something just crawled on deck outside

i’m so sorry for ev–[remaining text is too blood-smeared to read]

Credit To – Mike MacDee

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The Prophecy

July 14, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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This is the eighth installment in the Tower of Sorrow series.
Part One: Yon Black Edifice Hath Called Me
Part Two: First Steps
Part Three: Tight Spaces
Part Four: The Driver
Part Five: Hittin’ The Road
Part Six: The Blue Bronco
Part Seven: And The Hole Goes Deeper

I can see that Conner’s gears are turning as he stares at R’luhgrah’nyth. I don’t think he truly understands just what’s going on or what’s at stake. I had figured that I shouldn’t expect much from a member of the human race, but Conner surprised me. After releasing him from the trunk of my car, I instantly understood why The Collective needed him. In many ancient prophecies, from worlds across the Multi-verse, it was written that the son of Azathoth would imprison The Great Old Ones and claim the Multi-verse as his own. In these dark times a being would emerge that could free the imprisoned Great Old Ones to reclaim their lost realms. Conner is that being. As the eons tick by, many have forgotten these ancient prophecies or have discarded them as fiction. R’luhgrah’nyth knew, and I can see now that he was right to send me for Conner.

“Jack?” R’luhgrah’nyth snaps. “Hello… Jack… won’t you join us here on Earth?”

“Sorry sir,” I say stepping forward, “how can I be of service?”

“I don’t think our guest here quite understands our situation. Could you perhaps enlighten him as to who we are and why we have summoned him?”

“Happy to sir,” I say with a bow. I can’t stand all this ceremonious bullshit. All the bowing and the “sirs” get on my damn nerves. What can I say though? These “men” saved my life and now, may have even found a way to stop the upheaval of all of existence. I think they deserve the respect, no matter how I feel about it.

“Yeah Jack-o,” Conner grins and leans back in his chair, taking down a nearly full tumbler of scotch, “tell me a nice bedtime story. I’m awful tired.”

Laughter erupts briefly at the sight of Conner’s drunken antics. I can’t help but smirk a bit myself. To think that this man could possibly lead us to victory, it’s laughable. I clasp my hands in the small of my back, take a deep breath, and begin.

“Eons ago, before the birth of your planet or your species, in a realm outside of this universe, sprawled the blind idiot god Azathoth. Azathoth became lonely within the void and begat Nyarlathotep (The Crawling Chaos), N’yog-Sothep (The Nameless Mist), and Syhan’ghft (Darkness). There were more generations to follow, begat of The Nameless Mist and Darkness, but not Nyarlathotep…”

“Stop, stop, stop,” Conner drones with a wave of his hand. “Can we just skip all of the “begats’ and ‘begots’ and all that?” He sits up straight and levels his eyes at me. “Besides the fact that this sounds stupendously boring, I can’t see how it explains anything.”

The genuine look of confusion on his face freezes my rising anger. I may as well be dealing with a child that lost his mother in the supermarket. In other words, deep beneath his confident façade, is a scared kid without a clue where to turn. So, begrudgingly, I pull up a chair across from him and have a seat. “Look Conner,” I say with a heavy sigh, “I’ll give you the cliff note version ok?” He nods his head, but never breaks his gaze. “I don’t know what your religious beliefs may or may not be, but I’m sure you know of the story of God and Lucifer, right?” He gives me a curt nod. “Well,” I pause purely for dramatic effect, “it’s all bullshit.”

“Tell me something I don’t know,” he sneers.

“Okay smartass. The story as you know it is a complete and total lie. ‘God’ and ‘Lucifer’ do exist, but they are one in the same. There is only one entity in both positions. Heaven and hell? The same place and all run by one being.”

Conner’s jaw slackens a bit and he shakes his head. “What? Seriously? Am I being punked right now? Is Ashton Kutcher about to pop out with a camera? ‘Cause I smell LOADS of bullshit.”

“Listen you impudent little shit! How much do you have to see to believe?! The Crawling Chaos is coming! He’s destroyed worlds upon worlds across the Multi-verse and your pathetic little mud ball is next if you don’t shut the fuck up and listen to me! He sent his minions for you once and will do it again. Heaven, Hell, God and Satan are all lies. All of the monotheistic religions are lies! All of the souls of those who believe belong to him. They feed his power and have given him the strength to imprison The Great Old Ones within their own realms. Now that they lie dormant he is free to reign. We must stop him and you are the key!”

Conner drops his head into his hands and sighs heavily. When he raises his face I can see the tears welling up in his eyes. Pathetic, dull, cow’s eyes they are. “H-how? How can I stop him? If he’s so damn powerful, powerful enough to imprison gods, how can I stop him? I’m only human.”

As I open my mouth to speak, R’luhgrah’nyth raises his hand to stop me, “If I may, Jack?” I nod my acknowledgement. “Listen Conner, we know this is a lot to take in. We don’t have all the answers, but what we do know, is that you are the key. The ancient prophecies don’t call you out by name. They don’t even say what species the zhro’ai will come from. All we know for sure is that ‘He who is visited by the hlirgh-nyth Nyarlathotep will have a great lw’nafh. During this k’yarnak within Shagg, the dreamer will visit Shogg and the palace of Nyarlathotep.’ We know this is you. We felt the cosmic vibrations emanate from your psyche the minute you stepped into Shogg.”

Conner shakes his head as if awaking from a daydream. He tents his fingers, leans over in his chair and says, “Look man, I can’t pretend that I understood much of what you just said to me. What I can say is that I need to sleep. It’s been a long day since your goon,” he juts a thumb at me, “dumped me in his car. Any chance you could give me a safe place to sleep?”

A huge smile spreads across R’luhgrah’nyth’s face. “Sure dear boy. No problem.” He stands and extends his hand toward Conner. Conner accepts and gives him one brief shake. “Jack. Go get a key from behind the bar and show Conner to his room would you?”

“Right away sir,” I give my best bow and take Conner by the elbow. “Come with me, please.” He fidgets a little, but doesn’t try to get away. I can tell from how much he is leaning on me that he’s pretty wasted. Partially dragging his weight I make my way to the bar and grab a random room key. I know the rooms here are filthy little holes that people screw in, but I doubt that Conner will notice or care. As soon as I get the door open Conner takes a few stumbling steps forward and falls face first onto the floor. “Nighty-night little Alice,” I smirk as I head for the door, “I have some other business to attend to.”

Credit to: J. Brown

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Chalk 3 – The Bodies Multiply

July 13, 2014 at 12:00 PM
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This is the third entry in the Chalk series.

The anchorman had completely lost control of the interview. Part of me thought it was funny, but even so, I had a hard time laughing. This whole thing had me worried. I wasn’t sure why at the time, but maybe some part of me sensed that this was only the beginning of a much more enormous horror.

On the surface nothing was out of the ordinary to justify my unease. It was just my usual Friday night ritual. Dinner done, lights off in the livingroom, a glass of whiskey, and the local news before watching a movie with the wife. This was my comfort after a long, hard week of angry clients and angrier bosses. It was time to unwind.

Still, tonight it wasn’t working. Tonight something felt off. I couldn’t put my finger on what it was.

On the news tonight was the latest on a series of killings that had terrorized the city. People were being murdered in their own homes, with rarely any sign of struggle, and never a sign of a break in. They were just found gutted or stabbed or sliced up. The victim was almost always an adult, although there were a few children. Disappearances of other family members were common as well, but there didn’t seem to be a consistent pattern.

The only clue left behind was a bit of residual chalk dust lightly powdered over all of the victims.

“This is a real death cult, alright? The next Charles Manson is out there turning people into murderers!” The shrill woman, I think her name was Gladys something, was a representative for a group called “Family Survivors of the Chalk Murders”. They were a growing group.

She was debating someone who also had a family member that was recently killed. The guy’s mother was butchered in her own kitchen. Even so, he was disagreeing with her. He was some kind of expert on cults, and said that none of it matched the patterns of behavior that these groups usually showed.

“Look, this doesn’t fit with how cults do things. There are no messages left behind, nobody emptying their bank accounts or posting manifestos. None of the active cults in the area are taking responsibility, and believe me, they would if they could. I understand that you need to assign blame, to have someone that you can attack, but there are more important things! We need to stop looking for some cult leader and find the person or persons who are really doing this!”

He was making sense but… I don’t know. Maybe he was the reason I was feeling so uneasy. He was average looking, not really remarkable, but there was just something about him. It could have been that, even though he was yelling, he looked completely calm. His voice didn’t match his face.

Finally the anchor broke in: “Kevin, thanks for that. I’m sorry but we’re out of time, we have to move on.”

Rick Warslen’s face appeared on screen again as he shuffled papers dramatically and the graphic reading “Chalk Murders” appeared over his shoulder.

“Tonight’s grizzly murder of Thomas Greetly brings the total number of Chalk Murders to 38. Greetly was found in his office by the cleaning staff this morning stabbed through the back of the neck repeatedly and coated with a fine layer of chalk dust. The city lives in fear as the number of murders seems to be increasing in frequency, with a murder every day for the past four days. Authorities have yet to comment on… I’m sorry… one moment…”

He seemed to be listening to someone off-screen. I had to laugh a bit. He really did not have it together tonight and it seemed like the whole news broadcast was disorganized and amateurish.

“Don’t laugh at him dear, he’s just upset!”

I was so startled I nearly jumped out of my skin. Kim was standing there next to me in her pink housecoat, backlit in the darkened room by the kitchen light. Weird that she startled me. We’ve been married for 32 years now, and I’m used to being able to hear her coming. I must have been even more wrapped up in this news story than I thought.

“Yeah OK hon, I’ll give the guy a break, his daughter having been killed and all. He’s still a wreck though, really he should have taken more time off than just a month.”

“Well, if I got all hacked up and chalk covered, would you go to work the next day?” She gave me her cute, pouty, fishing-for-compliments look. I knew what that look meant. It meant she wasn’t going to let me watch the news until I gave her some attention.

“Of course not baby, I’d be a wreck for years!” She leaned over and I kissed her with just enough passion to make her feel like I wanted her, but not so much that she would get excited and want me back. This way she can push me away with an “oh you!” and I can go back to the news. Works most of the time.

Rick Warslen had started up again. “… obtained exclusive closed circuit security footage of the murder of Thomas Greetly. Ladies and gentlemen, while this may be hard to watch, it will be important to identify the killer and for your own safety familiarize yourself with how these murders are being done. Children and those sensitive to violence should leave the room. The following footage is very shocking.”

“Whoops, that’s my cue to get out of the room,” Kim said, “Really I have no idea how you can watch that!” She smiled and gave me a head shake of disapproval as she left. I love her, but as soon as anything the slightest bit scary comes on the TV she either runs away or makes me change the channel. I haven’t been able to watch a horror movie in peace in years.

The camera quality was pretty good for security footage; sharp and in full color. You could clearly see the rows of cubicles and into the glass office that Greetly was working in. It was late and he was the only person there. The lights were on in his office area, but the rest of the place was mostly in shadows.

Two people entered from the left. One was a guy with longish hair wearing a vest over a purple shirt with the sleeves rolled up. He had a pair of glasses that reflected the light from the office. The other person was an older lady in a shawl and drab looking dress.

When they entered his office Greetly looked up at them and leaned back. He seemed relaxed; not at all apprehensive about his guests. The old lady walked around the desk to stand next to Greetly while the guy in the shirt and vest stood back by the door.

The anchorman’s voice cut in: “I’ve just been informed that the woman on screen has been identified as Greetly’s mother, Mildred Greetly, an 86 year old pensioner. She… oh…”

He stopped talking when Greetly’s mom pulled out the knife. It reflected the office lights brightly. She held it behind her son’s back, and he never saw it coming when she drove it down into the back of this neck.

I couldn’t help but wince and jerk back from the TV. The utter brutality of it… she didn’t even hesitate. She just pulled out the knife, positioned it in the air, and then put her whole body into the thrust. The force drove Greetly face-down onto the desk, but she wasn’t done. As he went into spasms she wrenched the knife out and then drove it back in with both hands, leaning back to lift the knife as high as she could and then bending at the waist to make the most of each thrust. One, two, three, four… blood splattering up her arms, over her face, everywhere.

The worst part was her expression. That part turned my stomach. She was smiling this big false-toothy grin as she murdered her son.

The man she’d come in with made a slight motion, and she stopped and stood back. He approached the desk and lifted his hands to hover about a foot away from the dripping body, as if giving it a blessing or something. The picture warped then, bulging out unnaturally. It wasn’t a digital interference but more like the lens was being twisted somehow. Then… everything went black.

After a few seconds Mark Warslen’s face reappeared, shuffling papers with shaking hands and a drawn expression.

“Shocking footage of the murder of Thomas Greetly. We’ve been informed that Mildred Greetly has been taken into custody. We have… yes, OK… we do have footage of her being brought in for questioning. We take you live to the 9th precinct headquarters.”

The camera cut to an outdoor scene. It was mayhem as a crowd of reporters was being held back by a few officers. The back door of a police car was being opened. The old lady was pulled out in handcuffs, blood still splattered across her face. No sign of the other guy.

She seemed calm despite the shouting from the reporters. She looked happy beneath the blood, as if all was right with the world and there was nothing to worry about.

A shout cut through the noise of the crowd: “How could you kill your own son?” She said something then, but it was hard to hear. It was something like: “There are more important things.”

They led her to the door of the station and she seemed to be going peacefully, but then suddenly she straightened up, looked around until she spotted a camera, and stared into the lens. She started shouting then: “Chalk will consume you all! Every last one! You’ll rot in the pit, and his presence will be made manifest!” The cops started shoving her faster, so she yelled over her shoulder as best she could: “We are his disciples, and we are everywhere! We’re the people you’ve loved and trusted! And we will kill you, I promise! You will be fed to he that emerges!”

Suddenly the TV switched off. Irritated I looked around and saw Kim standing next to the table putting the remote back down. That’s the second time tonight she snuck up on me! Usually she’s so stiff I can hear her stomping around easily, but there was an unusually relaxed grace about the way she was moving now.

“You been drinking?” I asked.

“You know, dear, I’ve been thinking about taking up a new hobby,” she said. I started to get nervous. First her odd behaviour and now this random phrase. Maybe it was just the crazy old lady on the TV, but all of these little unexpected things about Kim tonight were making me uneasy. I tensed up a bit and shifted in my seat.

“New hobby?”

“Yes. I’ve been meaning for some time to take up art. You’re going to help me with my first piece. By the way, have you met my friend Chalk?”

She points across the room and fear slams through my body. He’s standing there, the guy from the TV. The tweed vest and purple shirt are unmistakeable. He’s smiling at me behind shining glasses.

“Kim, get out of here, he…”

The blade gashes my right hand, pain shooting up my wrist. When I turn to look, Kim is standing over me, tugging at the knife that has buried itself in the chair. She’s wearing a big, toothy grin.

“What the hell are you doing?” I ask. She doesn’t even seem upset that she accidentally hurt me. My fear at the man’s presence hasn’t left me, but I’m more confused at that moment at what Kim is trying to do.

She pulls the blade out of the chair and winds up for another blow. I react, standing up and making a grab for her wrists to hold her back. My right hand is in searing pain and gushing blood. It’s making my arm weak, and the gleaming knife is getting closer to my face. I can’t hold her back, but at the same time I’m worried that if I push back any harder I’ll hurt her. I’d rather let her kill me than hurt her.

Still, I don’t want to die either, and a terror begins to creep in as I realize that she really is trying to end my life. This wasn’t an accident. If I hadn’t been trying to wave her off my hand wouldn’t have deflected the blade and she would have buried it in my chest.

She’s still smiling at me, showing lots of teeth, but seems calm even as the muscles strain and cords stand out on her neck in her effort to push the knife into my face. I don’t understand.

“Kim! Kim wake up! It’s me, it’s Luther!”

“I know dear,” she says, “it would be better if you stopped resisting. I’m going to kill you now.”

“W… why?”

“It’s an exchange of energy. There are…”

The tip of the blade starts to dig into my cheek, and I panic. I shove hard enough to make her stumble back, and suddenly I’m running. My feet take me down the hall, and I slam the door of the bedroom behind me. It’s only then that I realize the stupidity of this move since the door has no lock. I brace my back against the door.

“Come back dear, this really isn’t the way it’s supposed to work,” she calls. My hand is throbbing now, and I wrap a random t-shirt around it that happens to be laying nearby.

I still can’t believe this is happening. My Kim. Why would she be acting like this? Who is that man? Is she really about to kill me?

She tries the doorknob and I press back against the door, my feet sliding on the carpet. Terror wins over confusion then, and all I can think of is survival. I can’t fight back at her directly or I might hurt her, and she’d probably kill me. I need options.

I spot the phone a few feet away, and make a wild grab for it before slamming my back against the door again.

“911, what is the nature of your emergency?”

“It’s that guy from the TV! The one who was with the old lady, the one that’s getting people to kill their families! He’s here and… my wife… tell the police not to hurt her! She can’t…”

“Sir, what’s your address?”

“2654 Chrisland Street. I’m hiding in the bedroom, holding the door closed. Please hurry they’re…”

“Luther?” the operator asks.

What? How does she know my name?

“Yes,” I say.

“Luther, just open the door and let them in. They need to complete their art.”

This can’t be. It can’t be. I start to get dizzy and realize that I’ve been panting. I try to stop before I pass out. Calm down. Think.

“Luther? Luther can you hear me?” Kim calls through the door, “Let me in Luther. Chalk has created such a beautiful piece of art, and I need to bring it into the world. Just come out and sit in your chair.”

“You should do as she says,” says the operator. I hang up.

This can’t be happening. It can’t.

She tries the doorknob again and pushes. I hold it shut, but my feet feel like they just have no grip on this carpet. My heart is beating so hard now I swear I can hear it. Kim had always been a fitness buff and nagged at me to get in shape, but I’ve always preferred the couch and a strong drink. I’m regretting that now. The extra pounds I’ve packed on are going to give me a heart attack before my wife even has the chance to kill me.

She starts throwing herself against the door over and over. She isn’t holding back at all and is hitting the door with more force than I imagined she could. Maybe that guy is helping her, although it’s only one thump against the door at a time and it’s her grunts of effort that I hear. This has to be bruising her up, and she’ll break a collar bone if she keeps up this pace. The door opens an inch every once in awhile, and I keep having to scramble to keep my back against it. I’m sweating now, although more with fear than strain.

In the window across the room a face appears, looking in at me. It’s the man with the longish hair and the vest, the one Kim called Chalk. His glasses are reflecting the light and he’s grinning at me.

Madness took me then. The throbbing in my hand, the roaring of my blood in my ears, my wife… he gave me a target for all of it. I stood and ran at the window, screaming at the top of my lungs some crazy, incoherent thing. I have no idea what I was thinking. All I could think was that maybe, if I could get him, maybe somehow Kim would snap out of it.

Kim opened the door behind me, filling the window with light from the hallway and obscuring the man’s face, but that didn’t stop me. I dove, raising my arms and smashing through the glass with my elbows. I had no idea how torn up I was when I landed, but adrenaline had taken over again and I scrambled up onto my feet in the cool wet grass. He wasn’t out here. Had I imagined him?

When I looked up, Kim was looking back at me smiling from the window. “Come back here, we have important work to do,” she said calmly.

“Don’t do this, don’t kill me,” I blurted.

“Oh don’t worry about that. There are more important things,” she said. She leaned forward then and started to climb through the window, seemingly oblivious to the scrapes and gouges she was creating in her arms and legs.

I ran. Pain raged through my legs announcing the damage that I did them with my dive through the window earlier, but I was too scared to slow down. Across the street and two doors down was Frank’s house. He would know what to do, even if I was too weak and stupid to.

The street was covered in chalk drawings laid out in swirling patterns. I noticed a picture of a rotting corpse hanging from a tree, which seemed to twist and contort into another picture of someone who was being hit by a car. The detail on their broken shin and the anguish in their eyes was unmistakeable.

As I passed over the drawings it felt like the pavement itself was throbbing and vibrating. My head started spinning then, and I wondered if I would even make it across the street.

As luck would have it, Frank had left the garage door opened, and he was inside putting something away. “Frank! Frank help me,” I called. When he saw me his jaw dropped in shock. I can only imagine how I looked.

“What’s going on Luther? Are you OK? Is Kim OK?”

“Kim did this to me! She’s…” It occurred to me then that she was probably almost on top of me by then, and I turned around to fend her off. She was gone. I looked back at the house, but she wasn’t there either.

A heavy hand landed on my shoulder and I jumped, screaming. It was just Frank of course, but it was getting harder to think things through. “Calm down buddy, what the hell is going on?” He took my good arm and started to help me to his house. I allowed myself to limp a bit, wincing with every bloody step at the deep cuts in my legs and feet from the broken window.

“It was Kim, she just went nuts. She came at me with a knife.”

“Kim did that? I can’t believe it!”

“I’m not sure I believe it either, but…” I held up the blood-soaked shirt in my right hand.

“Alright buddy, I got ya. Come on in and let’s get you cleaned up.”

“What about Joan and the kids? They’ll flip if they see me like this.”

“Don’t worry about them Luther. They’ll be fine, there are more important things. Let’s just get you sorted out here, then we’ll figure out what to do about Kim.”

It sounded like a plan, but something he said sent a shock of fright through me. I couldn’t put my finger on it. What was it that he said that had suddenly turned my stomach in knots?

The truth is, I just didn’t want to think about it. I was sick of being afraid. I shoved that cold fear down as best I could and let Frank guide me into the house, all the while leaving a bloody trail behind me. Seeing the red puddles I was leaving when we got to his linoleum floor seemed even worse, somehow. “Oh man, look at the mess I’m making in your house.”

Frank chuckled. “It’s fine buddy, like I said: there are more important things.”

I froze. That phrase. The old lady said it. Kim said it. Now Frank was saying it.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

“Where’s the family Frank?” I asked.

“They’re in the living room. Don’t worry about it, come on,” he said.

I tore loose and ran for the living room. I had to know for certain if my suspicions were right. When I got there what I saw ripped the last of my sanity from me, and I fell to my knees in wretched pain and terror. My horrified scream echoed against uncaring walls.

Frank’s family was sitting on the couch. His wife, his daughter, and his son. Their heads, however, were sitting on the coffee table. Their bodies were pale with powder, and blood covered everything else. Just… it was… everywhere…

I could hear Frank approaching from behind at an easy, casual pace. He chuckled a bit before saying: “I’d only just finished cleaning myself up and putting the chainsaw away before you got here. Takes a lot more work than you’d think to get blood out of the motor. Oh, hi Chalk! Found one of your runaways!”

Chalk had suddenly appeared in the moment I had looked away, standing in the middle of the room as if he had always been there. He looked down at me, smiling. The front door opened slowly and Kim walked in with the butcher knife, blood trickling down her arms and legs from wounds she didn’t seem to care about.

She walked straight over to me. I should have run, I should have fought back, but… it was all just too much. I could only weakly paw at the hand that grabbed my hair and jerked my head back. I searched her eyes for some sign of pity or sympathy or something, but there was only a kind of happy determination.

“Kim,” I whispered. It was all I could manage.

She leaned back before driving the gleaming knife forward into my chest. The pain was excruciating, but I lost consciousness before the second, third, fourth, and fifth thrusts.

Death, however, didn’t come. This wasn’t the end.

I was drawn out of myself and down into a dark corridor of rotting flesh and dust. There I joined the dozens of secret victims of Chalk, the ones that his servants had hidden along with the few they had revealed to the world. The boundaries of my identity were split open and my mind was spilled out into the gallery to mingle with the other victims. We think as one now, we the rotting dead.

We feed him from here in this pit of horror and darkness. Our essence decays and powders, feeding him on the surface world, slowly bringing his essence forth. He is so much more than even his disciples comprehend. He is a god beyond imagination, a demon from which Satan himself cowers in fear. The barest hint of him has been shown, a mere shadow. Now, the shadow grows.

Soon there will be enough of us, and his true face will be revealed. Towering and terrible and all-consuming, he will sweep across the world and consume it entirely with a gaping maw of fear and madness. All of humanity will know this dessication and despair. Suffering will be the only truth.

His power is a juggernaut now. Nothing can stop it. This is only the beginning.

Credit To – Sidney Crawlspace

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