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Mystogan Mountain

September 30, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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November 4, 2015 – 3:20 am –
Entry 1
Journal of Tyler E. Rivington

Today is the day that I venture to the other side of the World. That starting sentence seemed a bit bombastic, but it’s true. I will be travelling to a rather small town, possibly village, not entirely positive, to go and live on Mystogan Mountain. For some reason, this particular mountain hasn’t been placed onto any sort of map. Which is rather odd, but I’ve honestly never taken the thought to my heart, nor my mind. The reason for my going to this new and mysterious mountain is for my studies. I am a Paleontologist.

To many people, including friends and family of mine, not that I have many of those, choosing this as a career was a mistake. But I don’t believe that. Yes, I have to go to some bizarre and possibly dangerous places to dig up fossilized plants and bones. At least, that’s the short way to categorize us Paleontologists. I, personally, don’t mind it. I’ve been obsessed with things that are in the ground and finding, along with identifying, exactly what it is my whole life up to now. My obsession with this rooted from Miners, turning into Pirates, eventually rounding towards my obsession of Dinosaurs. Which became very much known by the time I was about six or so. Thanks to the discovery of the movies Jurassic World. (Allen Grant, my childhood hero.)

Now, how about I get further into what Paleontology is actually about, and the different sub disciplines of said career while I am driven to the airport with my boss and my other co-worker.

Paleontology is a rich field, a field filled with stories and mysteries. A long and interesting past with an intriguing and bright future. Hopefully anyways, it all depends on the future generation at this point. Many people believe that Paleontology is all about the study of fossils and Dino bones. Honestly though, Paleontology is much, much more than that. Which people would know if they actually tried to look up what it is that we do and what different sections of this choice in a life career there are. More than even I thought there were.

Paleontology is traditionally divided into various sub disciplines. Let’s start with the first one to pop into my mind, shall we?

1. Micropaleontology is about the study of generally microscopic fossils, regardless of the group to which they belong.
2. Paleobotany is the study of fossil plants; traditionally includes the study of fossil algae and fungi in addition to land plants.
3. Palynology is the study of pollen and spores, both living and fossil, produced by land plants and protists.
4. Invertebrate Paleontology is the study of invertebrate animal fossils, such as mollusks, echinoderms (A marine invertebrate, such as a starfish, sea urchin, or a sea cucumber.), and others.
5. Vertebrate Paleontology is the study of vertebrate fossils, from primitive fishes to mammals.
6. Human Paleontology (Paleoanthropology) is the study of prehistoric human and proto-human fossils.
7. Taphonomy is the study of the processes of decay, preservation, and the formation of fossils in general.
8. Ichnology is the study of fossil tracks, trails, and footprints.
9. Paleoecology is the study of the ecology and climate of the past, as revealed both by fossils and by other methods.
Just in case whoever reads this or finds it depending on what happens to me in the next few years, ecology means “the branch of biology that deals with the relations of organisms to one another and their physical surroundings.”. Or, on a more political advance, it means “the political movement that seeks to protect the environment, especially from pollution.”.

As you can tell, Paleontology has more to it than most think. Paleontology is the study of what fossils tell us about the ecologies of the past, about evolution, and about our place, as humans, in the world. It incorporates knowledge from biology, geology, ecology, anthropology, archeology, and even computer science to understand the processes that have led to the origination and eventual destruction of the different types of organisms since life arose.

Now that I’ve got the definitions and whatnot off of my chest, let me explain what field of Paleontology I chose. Which would be Paleoanthropology. AKA, Human Paleontology. Something just fascinates me anytime it comes to finding skeletons of humans, or maybe animals that closely resemble humans, that have been in the ground for who knows how many years. I believe that it’s the not knowing factor that really triggers my interest. Not to mention, I also like to help out in the Vertebrate Paleontology since finding fossils of primitive fish in mountains really get me interested. Because we don’t know how it got there. Maybe someone of something caught the fish and ate it there? Maybe there used to be a river and it died in the river, or where the river had dried up? Or, it could have been salt water, and the oceans of today could have been that big. And when high tide turned to low tide, that fish was stuck there, and died. But it really strikes your interest and imagination since there is an element of not knowing.

We’re halfway to the airport, it won’t be long before I have to put my Journal up, but I just wanted to state beforehand, if there was a chance of you becoming a Paleontologist, go for it! Not only does that mean that most trips are free, but you meet a lot of intelligent and amazing people along the way. Not to mention that the teachers are awesome. And this is coming from a twenty-four year old man. A single twenty-four year old man in college with a high-paying job, ladies, I’m looking at y’all.

But honestly, all jokes aside, the job is amazing. I am making a lot of money. I got out of High school with a full-ride scholarship and I had taken AP classes while still in High school as to not have to take the college courses for Geometry and English. Plus, no more PE. Which I am very happy with considering that I pretty much hate any type of physical exercise unless I know why I am doing it, and if it’s truly worth it. Not to mention, I am bilingual. Italian, Spanish, French, Swedish, and I am currently working on my Russian. Which is absolutely amazing since I’ve always wanted to learn all of these languages, though I will be trying out Japanese later on once I’ve buckled down both Russian and Finnish. Because anywhere with a lot of mountains or a vast landscape is where we might be. And these places have multiple mountains and vast landscapes. Plus, Italian was a language that I’ve always wanted to learn. Favorite quote in Italian? Maledetto bastardo! Which means, in Italian, damned bastard. One of my first sayings in Italian. I’m rather proud of that. Not to mention, doing amazing in my classes in school and saving up money and having about two jobs during the Summer and a part-time job during school really helped me buy the tickets to get to Canada. Considering how I am from Idaho, US.

But I am travelling way off topic.

My past and everything behind, if there were ever a chance for you to become a Paleontologist, please take it. So, let me think about everything that I’ve written down for my first Journal entry.
–Introduction (Kinda)–Check.
–Where I am going–Check
–How long will I be gone?–I will be absent from Canada for two to four months.–Check
–What is it I do for a living?–Check
–Explaining my job–Check
–Unexpected off-topic ramble–Check
–Tell people to become a Paleontologist–Check
–Do check-list–Check

So, since I am finished with everything and I only have about five more minutes to where I can actually write, it is time to say goodbye.

Bye-Bye, Entry 1!

Sincerely, Tyler E. Rivington.
P.S. I know that I might not seem like the hard-working type or a studious student because of how I write, but why not add my personality into the things that interest me and while talking about myself. Only business writing when it comes to my actual work/studies.

November 6, 2015 – 11:20 pm –
Entry 2
Journal of Tyler E. Rivington

So, we have arrived at the village, not town, that resides at the bottom of the mountain. Which, to be totally honest, standing at the bottom of the stairs that lead up to our cabin which resides on a cliff of the mountain, it’s rather terrifying. I’ve always been told, since I was a young boy, to follow my heart and trust my gut. And right now, my gut is telling me to turn tail and run like the Devil is on my heels. But my heart is telling me to follow after my co-worker and boss/professor and get the job done. Follow my heart or trust my gut? Not to mention, the residents were acting rather strange. The men seemed big and gruff, though skinny and lanky at the same time. Not to mention they treated us rather coldly, or as my co-worker put it, “like a bunch of jackasses that didn’t have any milk left, so they came out in a sour mood.” Which is probably one of the weirdest things I’ve ever hear come out of his mouth.

Speaking of which, my co-worker, is Ethan Jones. Well, Ethan Michael Jones. He’s a tall blond with rather piercing grey eyes. Though he’s not that bad. Sure, he’s more of a pessimistic guy who isn’t much of a morning person, but he’s a pretty cool dude once you get to know him. He’s tall, but not very lanky. More on the buff side. He has to wear glasses, near-sighted, but they compliment him, honestly. And Ethan’s blond hair stops about mid-neck length. He also has a tattoo of a snake impaled as well as wrapped around a dagger with a map behind the dagger with a rose crisscrossing with the dagger. Creating a cross of sorts. Just an FYI for any girls who are interested in tall and buff blonds, he’s Hawaiian.

Now, onto my boss/professor. He’s a cool guy as well. Shorter than Ethan and only an inch under my own height. Which, by the way, I am 6’2″. He has black hair peppered with white along the sides, but it looks good, honestly. His name is Terrence Frey. I don’t know his middle name, but that’s fine. I do know his favorite color, which is orange. Anyways, Prof. Frey is a happy-go-lucky kind of guy, has a smile on his brown face. He also has little crinkles around his light brown eyes each time he smiles or squints. Prof. Frey doesn’t really need glasses, but sometimes he’ll wear a pair to help him grade papers or check a list or document at work. He’s kinda short, not that I can be talking, but a relatively skinny guy. He just has a little bit of fat. Though he does have a big nose. Not overly large to where it looks funny and it’s the first thing you notice about him, but it is one of the things that you notice shortly after meeting him. Just a small fact, my boss/professor is mixed. Half black, half white.

I never wrote about my appearance, so, here we go. I am a 6’2 white male with slightly wavy, light brown hair. My skin is rather pale, though freckles align my face, shoulders, back, and a few scattered along my arms and legs. My eyes are a dark, almost deep sea blue. I am rather pessimistic, but I am happy and bubbly anyways. I strongly announce my opinions and I’m not afraid to call someone out on doing something wrong or when they are wrong during class. My ears are pierced, just regular piercings along with my second hole in both ears pierced, and I have a “smiley” piercing. In case you don’t know what that is, it’s where you get that rather thin piece of skin that connects ones upper lip to their upper jaw pierced. Well, at least the gums of your upper jaw anyways. Last but not least, my tattoo. A tribal tattoo that starts at the bottom of my neck, down to my bicep. It also grows towards my left peck, eventually fading once it starts to reach over to my right peck.

But screw our appearances, let’s talk about what this place looks like. It looks fucking creepy, that’s what it looks like. The houses in the village were made either from brick or wood. The houses all looked broken down and dirty. Black sulfur or something like that covered the outer corner of the houses, crawling upwards and spreading outwards. Any railings, or anything metal for that matter, was rusted. The dead trains that took up a crossed off section of the railway had graffiti and rust all over them. Some of their wheels had been dislocated and there were even dead plant vines that had winded themselves around the trains. These stairs that I am, still, staring up at look rickety and old. As if the slightest pressure on them they’d break. Or like they were very, very creaky. The sky is filled with grey, gloomy clouds. It’s sad really. Not that I was expecting a bright blue sky with little to no clouds in sight, but I was expecting something different, that’s for sure. Plus, it was lightly snowing, still is.

Okay, there’s a woman here. Her name is Belarus or something close to that. I guess I kind of have to follow her. I mean, it’s either that or turn tail and use up most of my money to get back to lovely Canada. I took my first step onto the stairs, I am cringing so bad right now. The wood is all rotten looking and it is so loud, I have hardly even put any type of pressure onto this fucking step. It’s ridiculous. But I have to mush forward as my professor put it. I don’t like this at all.

But I need the money. For more than one reason. Plus, it might be fun while actually working.

Oh! The reason it took me two days to create this new entry was because of some problems at baggage claim. My backpack containing my Journal couldn’t be found, and when we did find it, I had to rush straight onto the train to take us to the village. So I fell asleep within ten minutes on the train. Plus, I was too lazy to grab my backpack and get my Journal out once again, but let’s not spill that to Prof. Frey.

Anyways, now that I am standing in front of the wooden lodge that my companions and I will be staying in, it doesn’t look half bad. Rather new. Almost as if it were made merely weeks ago just for us. Honestly, I am both freaked out and excited for the journey ahead of me. I mean, I get to hang out with my friend, I get more tips and skills when it comes to working out in the field, plus there’s no telling what we’ll find. Hopefully something ground-breaking.


Not that I want one of us to step on loose ground and we all fall to our deaths after uncovering an underground cave. Yeah, no thanks. That doesn’t sound fun.

Anyways, I’ve got to go. I’m tired and lazy and hungry.
Bye-Bye, Entry 2!

Sincerely, Tyler E. Rivington

November 7, 2015 – 7:32 am –
Entry 3
Journal of Tyler E. Rivington

I am back to writing after grabbing some grub for waking up at such an ungodly time.

So, it turns out that today will be a rather boring day. Maybe. Depends on how the professor and my co-worker take this unfortunate news. We are stuck in this wooden lodge for the day. Because of severe weather. Now, after getting used to the Canadian weather and trudging through things worse than the storm raging on outside, it still is very dangerous. Especially if you are on a mountain. I mean, there is a huge difference between a sidewalk on a hill and it’s snowing heavily compared to a small, rocky trail that leads upwards towards the tip of a mountain. Not to mention it’s gonna be slippery due to slush and ice that might stick to the rocks.

We haven’t even been here a full day and I’m dreading this journey. I mean, I know that I was super excited at the beginning, but now…

I wanna go home.

But whatever. I’ll just have to suck up my homesick feelings and deal with it for the time being. Plus, these next few months are gonna fly by. Hopefully.

Anyways, I’m getting off track, again. We will be stuck inside the lodge all day. What will we be doing? Cleaning equipment and counting/checking that we have everything. Plus eating food and lounging around. Might even play a card game or something. I might be able to watch television as well, though sadly, I cannot use my internet or text anyone. Because there is no such thing as signal while on a mountain across the World.

I also found out that my co-worker and I have our own personal work journals, so this one can’t be judged on what I write in here. Though of course I will write down what happens during work, just as a precaution to any possible mishaps of my work journal. See what a motivated and prepared kind of guy I am? I’m pretty sure that this all will interest a woman. Or man. I’m fine with either sexuality. Maybe even someone transsexual. I am a demisexual, so before I even think of getting into a relationship with someone, I have to form a deep and emotional bond. Though I won’t deny a good one-night stand. And I really don’t care about what you think of me from that sentence; because it’s true. My dick will sometimes think before I can and there is nothing wrong with that.

I only have one rather crucial detail to share. Last night I didn’t get much sleep, which isn’t strange for me considering I am an insomniac, but it wasn’t my mind keeping me up. It was an animal. Maybe. I mean, I’ve heard coyotes, wolves, regular dogs, and I have never heard a noise that frightening in my life. And it didn’t sound like it was outside. It sounded like it was in the room with me. Of course, it could have just been right outside of the lodge, near my room considering that my room is the only one with a window that I know of.

But it was a low, growl of sorts. It sounded both human and animalistic, it almost scared the piss out of me. I don’t know exactly how to explain it, but I’m trying. Like a gravely chuckle mixed with a coyote howl and a wolves snarl. And it sounded like it came from the closet, or outside my window. Either way, it scared me, but that’s probably the only time that I’ll even hear it.

So, I’m gonna cut this Entry short considering how we won’t be working or anything. Nothing exciting.
Bye-Bye Entry 3!

Sincerely, Tyler E. Rivington

November 8, 2015 – 3:46 pm –
Entry 4
Journal of Tyler E. Rivington

We found a prehistoric trail today. Yes, you heard it hear folks, we actually left the lodge to work. But I felt super unnerved. Some of the village men left with us, they were holding weapons and they were looking around nervously. Not to mention that they told us to stick close to them and when it gets to about two in the afternoon, then we all needed to head back. Creepy shit right there. And it felt as though something or someone was staring at me all day. It was probably one of our personal bodyguards, but this stare was filled with malice and anger. Maybe even hunger?

Oh well, I’m probably just being paranoid. I mean honestly, I did catch the youngest of the three bodyguards kind of glaring at me before our eyes met and he whipped his head away from me. Acting as if he wasn’t caught in the act of, most likely, defiling me with his eyes.

Anyways, work crap in case something happens to my work Journal.
Location of trail: 54 N; 38 E”
The trail showed small rocks and what seemed to be eroded prints of sorts. If possible, might be an animal or person.
This trail seems to have been preserved for about 30 or so years. Depending on whether the trail is proof or not. Could be more, could be less. We’ll find out more.
The trail stopped rather abruptly at 62 N; 14 E”. We could no longer follow the trail.
When cement mixture was placed onto the first section of the trail (54 N; 38 E”), and then taken off, it showed an animal print. Possibly.
This trail could be a dead end.
I really hope that we didn’t spend the day looking at a stupid trail. One that won’t lead us anywhere. Plus, there’s no telling if I took the notes correctly for a trail. I didn’t choose to major in Ichnology. I chose to major in Paleoanthropology. I deal with human bones and fossils or at least animals that are primitive and have left behind their bodies…ish.

Now that I’ve got that out of the way, I have to inform whoever reads this that the noise was back. And this time, it was accompanied by a dream. Well, technically nightmare considering that when I woke up I was gasping for breath and there were dried tear streaks under my eyes and gliding along my cheeks. Plus, my nose was running. But yes, the sound was most definitely back. And this time, it sounded closer. Clearer. Not muffled by a door or a wall, but almost as if it were standing on the outside of the closet instead of the inside of the closet. It’s freaking me out.

But the nightmare, it was probably the worst thing that night, not the noise. Not that mutated growl. The nightmare was almost as if I were actually living through it. The nightmare started off brutal. Showing people, those villagers, slaughtering the woman, Belarus. They had gouged out her left eye, stabbing these knives of spears maybe into her shoulders and thighs, keeping her held upright on a wooden table. It was an old one, that’s for sure. It had dirty spots, more like splatters, covering it everywhere. They gutted her, placing some of her organs on a platter, the others into glass jars. Then they slit her throat and held up a silver gauntlet of sorts. The villagers were chanting in a tribal language, the wind was howling outside, and the setting was in some dingy old cave of sorts. But, you’re probably wondering, what was the strangest thing about this gruesome nightmare?

Belarus didn’t scream once. She didn’t flinch or whimper in pain. She’s was quiet, staring straight ahead. Which made it seem as though she was staring straight at me. Though that isn’t possible, but it still seemed that way. I could tell, while in the nightmare, that the humanoid yet animalistic growl was blended in with the chanting, though growing louder. And I swear, when I snapped my eyes open, I saw something dart out of my line of vision.

Scariest shit ever.

I had asked both Ethan and Prof. Frey if they had heard any strange noises. They both said no. Ethan said that he could only hear the wind and possibly an owl at night. Prof. Frey said that he couldn’t hear anything from the outside, but he could hear my panicked breathing. Though he was half-asleep when he heard me. I don’t understand what the fuck is going on, but I don’t like it.

I think that I’ll end it here. My hand is shaking just from remembering that dream. But, luckily, Belarus is fine. She’s an older woman with silver-grey hair up in a bun with some type of clip in her hair that is aligned with tribal beading. She looks youthful other than the slowly showing wrinkles and her hair. She said that she’s just about fifty-seven. Belarus is the cutest old woman I’ve ever came across.
Bye-Bye, Entry 4!

Sincerely, Tyler E. Rivington

November 9, 2015 – 8:13 pm –
Entry 5
Journal of Tyler E. Rivington

Belarus is dead.

Supposedly she was found dead earlier this morning in her bed, died of a heart attack. I don’t believe that. I have that dream of Belarus dying and suddenly, the next day, she’s dead? Not to mention, that young bodyguard was there today. He seemed to be sweating up a storm. Like he was hiding something. I’ve always been the type of person that believes in supernatural beings and Karma, things like that.

What can I say? I’m a superstitious bastard.

Nothing happened at work. Except for the fact that I found a human, female, skull half-buried in the ground. Fresh. Blood and flesh still clinging onto it. Along with some silver-grey hair. This has to Belarus’ skull. That skull had to be hers. It was too fresh. I didn’t mention it to anyone. I was afraid of saying something and then the bodyguards going after me. Screw writing down what happens at work. I need to release my concerns and thoughts here. I am afraid that I can’t trust anyone here. I could trust Prof. Frey and Ethan, but they’d probably think that I was crazy. You know what? I probably am crazy. But I still trust my gut. And my gut is telling me not to trust anyone else other than my Journal with this information. It’s also telling me that my heart was stupid and that I should have abandoned this job while I still could’ve.

I’m pretty sure that if I tried to run off now, the villagers would do something to me.

It has to be a conspiracy. It HAS to be a conspiracy. The villagers are all in it. They’ve created a plan. That’s why, in my dream, Belarus reacted with no emotion at all. Because she was anticipating the end. She knew everything from start to finish beforehand.

That’s the only way that it could have ended the way it did. I’m sorry, Belarus. I’m so, so sorry. But you knew. You probably knew about this since the beginning of your life. When did they tell you? When you were twelve? Did they sacrifice you to something? A God? An animal? An otherworldly being that you all worshipped? My most important question though, is if the rest of you family before you were killed like that to. Were they? I wish that I could have been there. Not to watch, but maybe I could have stopped it. Maybe I could have stopped your ultimate demise. Doubtful, but I feel so, so guilty.

On a different note, I had yet another nightmare. These have to be visions of the future or something. Because it was the death of the young bodyguard. The young boy, about eighteen, who watched over us yesterday and today. It was different. I saw some of the villagers in the nightmare. They were dressed in velvet purple cloaks, black pieces of cloth covering their eyes, simple white dots showing where their eyes would be. The leader was wearing a red cloak made of silk. It was a man, buff and bulky. I still couldn’t quite see exactly what he looked like as to decipher him from the rest of those villagers. But the leader held a book in his hand, a curved dagger being held in his other hand as he spoke out loud, his voice thick with Russian. The only words that I could really understand were; “We”, “have”, “it is time”, and “rejoice”. The victim, that poor boy, was naked with the only clothing on him being the same cloth that covered the villagers eyes around his head, covering his eyes as well. But instead of there being two white dots where his eyes were supposed to be, there were none. It was simply black.

Unlike Belarus, he was chained to a wooden post. It had ancient, most likely tribal, writing covering it. With different symbols and swirls filling in the gaps. The color of said symbols and swirls were either red, white, or black. With tiny, almost unnoticeable green dots that went in a straight line from top to bottom. His hands were chained up, his fingers missing with blood steadily pouring from the new nubs on his hand, falling onto the crisp and white snow beneath him. He was positioned onto his knees, his head bowed down in a respective way. His feet were missing. They had chopped his feet off.

What kind of sickos do that?

I had to watch as they tore his ears off with a wrench. Okay? A fucking wrench. Unlike Belarus, he flinched in pain, but nothing more. I also saw them put his ears on a string, accompanying many other ears. These villagers were still chanting the whole entire time in an unknown language.

The noise was back as well. I could hear it. It was way closer to me. Almost as if it were at the foot of my bed. Watching me. That same noise. It’s gonna forever haunt me, I just know it. I have to be insane. I must be insane. But the noise this time…was different. It was almost as if it were trying to say something. Crazy, yes. Wrong, no. I’m never wrong. I’ve never been wrong.

When I opened my eyes, I saw glowing red ones staring right back at me. But I blinked and it was gone.

Maybe I should stay up late tonight and try to follow the villagers. To stop this deadly conspiracy. To put an end to the needless murders.

I’ll be ending it here.
Bye-Bye, Entry 5.

Sincerely, Tyler E. Rivington

November 10, 2015 – 4:08 am –
Entry 6
Journal of Tyler E. Rivington

…I’m so sorry.

I couldn’t do anything. I felt so worthless. So useless. I watched as something mutated tore into that boy. I watched as the villagers stood by, chanting nonstop, sadistic and joyous grins covering their faces.

I can’t go out there. I can’t face any of them. I have to get away from here.

Mystogan Mountain was a terrible choice.

Why did we have to come here? Why couldn’t we have gone to a place to where this wouldn’t happen? Why did we travel to an uncharted mountain in the middle of fucking nowhere?


Maybe this is why it was never documented. Maybe this is why no one knows about Mystogan Mountain. Because they were murdered. Sacrificed to some mutated being that the villagers here worshipped.

I’m so sorry.
Bye-Bye, Entry 6.

Sincerely, Tyler E. Rivington

November 10, 2015 – 11:40 am –
Entry 7
Journal of Tyler E. Rivington

I fell asleep and saw Ethan get slaughtered by the villagers. And then sacrificed to that mutated thing. I just want to know why. Screw how, tell me why. Why am I seeing this? Why is that noise in my room? Why did it feel as if the animal that creates that noise was breathing onto my face? Why did it sound as though it called out my name?

I’m awake now, and I can hear the noise, that gravely tone calling out my name in a brutal whisper. It’s pounding within my mind. The only reason why I’m not out there with Ethan and Prof. Frey right now is because I pretended to be sick. Which right now, I don’t know why or how I’ve managed this long without having the feeling of bile rise within my throat. Why haven’t I thrown up yet? Why did it feel as though I enjoyed watching Ethan die in my dream? Why did it feel as though overwhelming excitement washed throughout my mind and body as I watched the villagers pluck his teeth out, one by one? Why did I enjoy hearing him howl out in pain? Why? Why?! Why is this happening?

I’m scared.

I keep seeing shadows and those glowing red eyes. Any time I turn by back to a room or hallway, I have the overwhelming sense that something is there, waiting, watching. Playing with me. I want to leave. I want to go back to Canada.

Oh my gosh, I was so scared and paranoid that I growled at Prof. Frey and tried to hit him. I thought that he was one of the villagers.

I thought that he was that mutated humanoid animal that was feeding off of Ethan and the young villager. I lashed out at my professor and boss. He looked taken aback, that’s for sure. Scared kind of. But whenever he talked, I didn’t hear anything. I heard static. And the static almost clouded over that fucking noise. It almost drowned out that voice whispering my name.

Kill me. Someone kill me.

I need to do something. I need to get out of here.
Bye-Bye, Entry 7.

Sincerely, Tyler E. Rivington

November 11, 2015 – ??? –
Entry 8
Journal of Tyler E. Rivington

I killed Prof. Frey. I killed him. With a Bowie knife.

I don’t know what came over me, but I couldn’t take it anymore. It was almost as if I didn’t have control over my body. As if someone were in my body, as if someone had locked me up in my mind, and made me watch. But I felt happy. I felt powerful. I felt in control even when the situation was out of my control.

There’s something wrong with me.

I saw something today as well. I saw the villagers in their cloaks, circled around the lodge, continuously chanting. I had a dream last night, predicting Prof. Frey’s death. Ethan is dead. He died yesterday actually, he didn’t come up mysteriously missing today. He was murdered yesterday while Prof. Frey was checking up on me. And I went and killed him. I went and killed Prof. Frey. But it felt good. The blood splattering onto my face? Amazing. The smell and taste was so sweet. But at the same time, I hated it. I was, still am, disgusted with myself. That mutated humanoid animal thing that I was seeing in my dreams? It’s just sitting at my feet.

Wait, where am I? How…did I get here?

There are a few bodies surrounding the chair that I’m sitting in. My…pet is currently chewing on one of the villagers severed limbs. Did I do that? If memory serves me correct, I did. The static is back. It’s just filling up my head. Wait, is it static? Or is it the sound of a horde of bees? No, no, I’m not wrong. That’s static. The voice that had called out my name? Gone. It was my new companion eating an arm that had called out to me.

Crazy, right?

And to think, I was freaking out over nothing.

Mystogan Mountain is amazing.

Everyone should come here. Everyone should come here and join the villagers conspiracy.

Everyone needs to come to Mystogan Mountain.

My pet might run out of food if you all don’t come here.


I can put you out of your misery.

I think that this is my last Entry for my Journal.
Bye-Bye, Entry 8!

Sincerely, Tyler E. Rivington.

Credit: GuppyChild

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September 22, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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Part One

The wind howled like a the forgotten cries of a madman as it came whipping down from the high mountains, flushing the valley with the bitter cold that all winter’s bring. Herds of Blackhorned Elk huddled together, eyes keeping vigilant against the creatures that stalked the night, and the creatures that would try and stalk the young they had encircled within their ranks. Their great horns, easily wide enough to handle even the largest of bears or the nimblest of wolves, were covered in thin sheets of frost, icicles dangling from their shaggy coats which provided them some measure of protection from the primordial cold that seemed to seep through Wetterstein Mountains every winter’s night.
The largest of the elk, a male that stood twice as tall as a man, raised his head as, over the shrieking winds, he heard the movements of the beast that the herd had come to fear; a beast they had always feared. He snorted loudly, drawing the other males’ attention, shifting his horns slightly to motion into the darkness around them. The woods were heavy with snow and ice, but the hoof-carved paths were still passable to those long of leg, and strong of spirit. Unlike the strange fire-walkers of the stone forests dotting the mountains, the Great Elk could see fairly well in the dark. Sitting at just the edge of his vision, was the horror that had stalked his herd for the past three nights.
A tall, hairless beast that stood not on four legs but two, like the fire-walkers. But unlike the frail little creatures, this being’s arms reached the ground as it stood, stooped over a snow covered boulder, watching the herd as a hungry wolf might. But this creature was far more dangerous than any wolf that the Great Elk had ever encountered; it moved with an almost unfathomable speed, sometimes using its gangly arms to grip a low branch and swing forward as it would chase you down. Other times it would stalk you for days, leaving naught a trace of its existence save for the faint smell of the rotting flesh caught between its thin, black teeth in its vertical, flat maw that split the center of its head down the middle.
The herd had been unable to sleep or rest due to this creature’s relentless pursuit, doggedly keeping pace with their own, always allowing its presence to be felt. The last time the herd had relaxed, it had claimed two calves, one in each massive hand, before stalking off into the darkness. The tortured cries of the calf’s had lasted all night, and the Great Elk had been forced numerous times to keep the cows from going out into the darkness to try and save them.
He knew a trap when he saw one.
Just as dawn had broken this morning the calves had finally fallen silent and upon further investigation, the herd had been most distraught to find both hanging from the trees a scant few yards from where they had been standing all night, pinned to the thick branches by their own splintered ribs, chests left wide open and organs, now laying in rime-laden pools beneath them. Large sections of their backs and legs were missing, torn free by the beasts’ horrible maw though a good deal of glistening meat still sat frozen on the twin corpses, untouched by the strange creature.
Now it sat there, leaning back on the corded muscles of its haunches, watching the herds every movement with six yellow slated eyes positioned around the creatures bizarre mouth. It was slowly scooping snow into its right hand, a wide and cruel tool ending in three barbed talons, letting the wet mess slide through into a messy pile at its hooves. The Great Elk could smell the rotting meat of its own, knowing that the smell was coming from the beasts own breath. It was taunting him…
Well, it would taunt him no longer!
The Great Elk burst into a sprint, head lowered in preparation of ramming the creature with its sharpened horns. Three young bucks were right beside him, running headlong in a straight formation that they had used a number of times to trample wolves that had proven too brave or hungry for their own good. A small tree shattered into splinters as the elk’s left horn caught it, severing it at shoulder height and sending it crashing down into the deeper recesses of the forest. Several more joined it as several tons of solid muscle quickly closed in on the strange monster, which had yet to even acknowledge the charging menace closing in upon it.
And then it was upon them, leaping over their sharpened horns and hardened skulls, slashing at the flanks of two of the brave young bucks that had charged along with him. The talons ignored their frozen shell of fur and thickened hide, tearing deep gashes open with but the barest of ease, the air now taking on the sickening scent of copper and fear. The young buck didn’t even have a chance to shriek in pain, as the beast was immediately upon it, gripping his horns and twisting violently about, snapping his neck like so many dry twigs beneath a hoof. As he twisted the dislocated skull of the cool corpse about, he rammed it into the chest of another young elk, causing the sharpened bits of horn to rend through his surprised brethren in a most horrid manner, a crimson spray of freezing mist rising up and painting the grey monster’s face with spattered traces of fur and meat.
The Great Elk watched in horror as the beast dispatched the last of his younger comrades, breaking its back with a mighty leap from the connected corpses of his younger brethren. The buck yelped in agony in sync with the sound of his upper spin snapping, just before his head was torn free from cords of thickened muscle and sinew, only to be tossed aside carelessly as the monster casually stepped down from the collapsing body, staring balefully with all six yellow slits into to the eyes of the Great Elk.
And for the first time in countless seasons, the greatest elk in the herd felt fear. And as he tried desperately to gore the offending monster as it somehow appeared beside him, he howled in anguish and frustration as he felt his front two legs snap, dropping him suddenly to the sloshy red snow with a sickening thud. Kicking and bucking in vain, all he could do was wail and cry, doing his best to let the herd know he’d failed in his charge, failed to keep them safe, and that they needed to run before they too became the creature’s next meal.
As the warmth of life slowly gave way to the chill of winter, the cold snow pressed around the Great Elk’s muzzle stained red with his own blood, he could hear the crunching of the snow as the monster slowly padded its way around his body, until the great hooves stopped in his direct line of vision. The pain was intense, and from his vantage point on the ground he could only see one of his severed legs and up to the first joint of the creatures pale, muscled leg, but the Great Elk could sense the predatory eyes wandering over his body, wondering where next would be the best to cut into, where the Great Elk had the juiciest selections of savory flesh he could sample.
The Great Elk was to die and he knew it, because he’d been too sure of himself and his own strength. His younger brethren too had fallen prey to their own confidence; foolishly rushing the monster that had proven too strong for them, proven it was as cunning as any wolf and as strong as any bear. Their pride had led to their, and by extension the herds, destruction, this the Great Elk knew…
And then the Great Elk knew nothing.

Part Two

The Beast snarled as he pulled his hoof noisily from the crushed mess that had once been the strange animal’s skull, enjoying the sucking noise that came along with the sensation of the creatures grey matter sticking messily to his sharpened hooves. He’d wandered into this valley weeks ago and been overjoyed at the fact that it was so full of life, despite the freezing conditions of the season. Everywhere he went he could find animals to hunt, from the great horned deer like these to the gigantic black-furred bears that seemed to dwell in every sizable cave worth noting. He’d even had the chance to stalk some creatures similar to the Hell Hounds back home, great grey-furred creatures made of nothing but toughened sinew and fang.
He snarled as he yanked one of the great antlers free of the fractured mess, shaking it a few times to free it of the hanging flesh and fur still connected to it. A worthy trophy for his growing collection! On his third night in this strange mountain chain he’d located a suitable lair, a large cave (of course inhabited by a pair of unimpressive bears that had quickly become the beginning of a large pile of semi-tanned furs that the Beast was now using as a bed) that had several smaller chambers leading deeper into the mountainside. It’d become a new shrine to pain and pride, two of the greater sins that the Beast thrived upon; he’d been slowly creating an arsenal of primitive torture devices, carved from the harvested bones of his kills, as well as numerous small tables and chairs that would serve him well in future endeavors, when he finally worked up the courage to try and raid one of the human settlements dotting the numerous valleys in the surrounding area.
The Beast grinned at the thought of his future victims, lazily lapping at the sizzling hot spittle leaking from his mouth with a sinuous tongue. But no, he decided, pulling back to the here and now. Now was not the time to daydream, not with dawn approaching. He’d made do the past few days by burrowing into large snow banks, to avoid the harsh rays of the sun. With terrible thoughts of torture and pain echoing throughout his dirty mind, the Beast grabbed hold of one of the deer’s remaining legs, slinging the heavy beast over his shoulder and onto his sloped back: home was but a few minutes away if he were able to travel through the trees, and dragging the beast back would most definitely leave a suspicious trail that he wanted to avoid.
For now.
While the Beast didn’t fear humans (he feared nothing!) he knew revealing his presence now could lead to complications for further hunts, further games of sport. And the Beast would not have any of that. He hadn’t seen a human that he was allowed to harm in over a decade, and while in the long term his slight sojourn into this valley might be viewed as treasonous, a fresh supply of fear and pain were too much for the Beast to simply ignore and walk away… or worse, fall back and report their location! Then his brethren would come, swallowing up the whole lot of them like a swarm of locust over a budding crop of wheat.
And that simply wouldn’t do. No, he would take his time here and sup on the unspoiled Eden for as long as possible. If push came to shove, he would do as all his kind did and merely lie, and offer whatever survivors remained to his Lord in exchange for mercy. For now, he had a good enough reason to remain within the valley, away from the rest of his Clan.
The Beast grunted as it leaped into the air, one clawed hand clamped over his heavy burden while the other sought purchase on a frost-coated branch. His hooves dug into the bark of the trunk with the ease of fire through wax, and he steadily scaled the tall tree until reaching a branch sturdy enough to hold him aloft.
Down below, he could see the rest of the herd of deer moving in to sniff at the corpses of their heroes, looking about in wonder at what had felled their greatest with such ease. Their fear wafted high and thick, filling the Beast with a sense of ease that nothing else could sate. He lingered for a few moments longer, allowing their fear to fill his gullet, satiating a great thirst he had been harboring for days now. The two younglings had served well enough for an evening’s worth of entertainment, but their fear had vanished far too quickly, instead replaced by a sense of morbid confusion that all animals seemed to get when being tortured.
They just didn’t understand, the poor things…
They had served well enough the slaking the lust for fear just long enough for the Beast to hunt another night, their pain giving him more than enough to feed off of for the time being.
A sharp crack echoed through the silent woods, causing the Beast to whip his head about to look for the source of the noise, spreading out his senses in hopes of catching a new source of fun that he could bring home with him. Dozens of small rodents and birds were close by, hiding within their hollow burrows in the ground and in the trees, and the deer were milling about below, not sure what they should do now that their alpha had been slain… but nothing else. Strange, the Beast thought as his eyes scanned the forest floor. What made that noise then?
The answer came in the form of a three-foot arrow snapping through the air, piercing straight through the meaty corpse of the deer on his back and through into his own chest cavity. Humans! The Beast howled to the sky, letting go of the deer and allowing it to slide from his back. He had no need of it now if he had humans to hunt!
Sadly, this was not a great idea (which the Beast quickly realized) as the great weight of the deer, which had been so carefully balanced on his back during his ascent into the trees, was now drifting backwards at an alarming rate. This wouldn’t be a problem if the damned arrow that had just struck him hadn’t pinned the animal to his back as well. The Beast flailed its arms about, wind milling them in hopes of gaining balance, but to no avail; he toppled backwards and began his second great fall from the sky (though this one was far less dramatic, if the Beast took but a moment to ponder upon it).
He landed roughly in the midst of the grieving herd, landing hard atop the corpse of one of the smaller horned deer with a pained grunt as the dead creatures horns dug into his side rather painfully. Belly down, the Beast could only grunt again as three more arrows embedded themselves in his back, further pinning the dead weight of his latest trophy to him in a most undignified manner. Growling, he pushed himself onto his hooves and stood high, spreading his arms out wide and letting loose a bellowing roar. If the humans thought their meager arrows were of any consequence to him, they were sorely mistaken.
His eyes could see them now, there dark silhouettes concealed by the trees that they stood by. Each wore a solid white smock over boiled leather jerkins, their faces covered by white leather masks topped with wide-brimmed hats and ending in long, hooked noses. The Beast grew more excited as he took in the sight before him.
He had stumbled upon a secluded set of valleys that just so happened to house his mortal enemies, humanities last true hope at reclaiming their world… oh the delicious irony! The Beast let loose a deep laugh, swatting at his knees as he fought to contain his mirth.
“You win little birds…” He shouted to them in Aramaic, already noting with general unease the tingling in his back where the first arrow had pierced him. His prize package had absorbed the brunt of the arrows damage, as well as the majority of the poison that the arrowhead was drenched in. The following three arrows, while all having a similar issue, would be more than enough to subdue him. The more he moved, the faster it would spread. “Come on out and claim your prize!”
Their response was another round of arrows into his chest, this time from the front and without having to pass through any other material other than the Beast’s hardened hide itself. He hissed in pleasure as the arrows sank deep into the thickly corded muscle of his upper torso, the pain quickly ebbing away as the poison quickly spread, numbing all of his nerves at a rapid rate.
“Have you no questions for me, little birds? I’ve heard tales of how you like to question us before killing, in hopes of learning our ways.” He continued, dropping to one knee as he lost control of the leg. “I would think you all have earned but a simple answer from me, for my lack of thought and carelessness.”
They remained as silent as the grave as they watched him collapse into the snow, remaining still until the Beasts breathing became heavy and labored.
“No questions then?” He gasped, still shouting out to any who would listen. “Then do what would have saved your people centuries ago and seal the deal! Your sin of pride will be, and has been, your downfall… as surely as it has been mine.”
Three more cracks echoed through the snow-laden woods, the last of the herd of black-horned deer scattering as the Beast’s vision darkened.
And then the Beast knew nothing.

Part Three

The last three arrows we had fired into the demon had pierced its skull and neck, one going through the upper part of its mouth, another piercing one of its many eyes, the last embedding itself in its neck. I’d have to lecture Jonathan about his aim later, as the neck shot was virtually useless in any instance but this.
I motioned for Jonathan to move forward with me, using prepared hand signs to tell Samuel to keep guard. He nodded once before notching another arrow in his longbow, aiming straight at the great demons back while Jonathan and I moved forward. The beast had been bellowing in its last few seconds of life though for the life of me I haven’t a clue what it was saying. The elders back home say they all speak the language of God, referring to it as the Old Tongue… I don’t really know about any of that though. I never cared for any of that spiritual talk… if these creatures were truly fallen angels, the remains of some great race of creatures that an all-powerful being created to serve him, I doubt that we would stand any kind of chance against them.
As we approach the demons prone form, I stop every few feet to look at the small gem dangling from my wrist, hoping against hope that it would continue to diminish in brightness. Rosary Beads, as we like to call them, glow in the presence of evil (so the Elders say). I don’t know about all of that, but they sure as hell light up if any demon comes within fifty miles of us. Not the best security system in the world as they can’t really tell us where the intruding demon is, or if it’s one or a thousand of them; just that there is a demon within fifty miles, the light growing brighter the closer you get to them.
Despite their rather glaring fault in detection, they did have one added benefit that I find particularly helpful: they don’t shine around dead demons. And my Rosary is growing dimmer by the second.
Jonathan slides a bit over some ice-slickened path, stumbling forward clumsily into my shoulder. I glare at him and shove him back. “Dumb bastard! Stay back and be prepared for anything… I know this is your first night on patrol, but that’s no excuse to be so damned stupid!”
Jonathan’s face is just as covered as mine, but after years of staring into similar masks I can sense the sneer behind the hood. “The demon’s dead, no need to be so paranoid Ivan. What’s it gonna do, come back to life?”
“…just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” I quoted from memory, watching the demon’s corpse slowly gather small flecks of falling snow over its pale hide. “You’ll find that anything we call a demon can surprise you. Better safe than sorry, you know?”
Jonathan remained silent as we stopped a few yards from the corpse. The Rosary dangling from my wrist had finally grown dull, now merely a darkened red opal dangling from a silver chain in place of the small crimson sun that had been glowing for the past few days. I heaved a sigh of relief, waving the all clear sign to Samuel, as well as an order to break camp in the boughs of one of the many Silver Fir’s around us; we deserved a rest after this hunt, and a day of sleep followed by a night under the stars worry free as we returned to the Nest would indeed be a fine gift.
“Hey,” Jonathan piped up, having approached the abominations corpse, kicking it idly with the tip of his boot. “Why’d it take the deer with it?”
I merely shrug as I pull my bow over my shoulder and begin to rebind the Rosary chain around my wrist. “Trophy probably. They tend to gather little trinkets, or parts, from the things they kill.”
“Why?” Jonathan asked, kneeling over the corpse, poking at it errantly with a heavy-hilted dagger. “Don’t they just exist to kill, to reap the souls of His children?”
I fight back a sigh and enjoy the confines of my own hood as I roll my eyes at the little fanatic. I may be a Raven, but I’m hardly a believer in everything the old texts claim; Hell, I sometimes even doubt whether or not He really exists, what with the way the world has fallen into such disarray.
“They live to hunt yes, but they have lives outside of that,” I answer after a few moments of watching the snow fall about, drifting through the pitch black lazily around us. “Most take up art, actually.”
“Art?” Jonathan asked with surprise, struggling to lift the dead demons heavy three-clawed hand.
“Well, what they call art at least,” I mutter with a shrug, still watching the snow fall, eyes wandering the horizon, in search of… something. “They derive sustenance from pain in the way we do from dry bread, but each demon hungers for something else, something far more sinister. They hunger for the emotional aspects of at least one of the Seven Sins.”
“Like envy and lust?” Jonathan asked with a hint of disgust, dropping the claw to the ground as if it had suddenly become something toxic.
Well, more toxic.
I shrug again. “Those are far rarer from what I’ve read; most feed off of things like anger or fear, things that they can easily instill in victims that they take captive.”
“I didn’t know demons took captives,” Jonathan said with a low whistle, shuffling around the body to look at the creatures ruined head. “Cor, this thing is hideous.”
“Yeah, they tend to be a little disturbing to look at.” I dryly comment as I walk past him, smacking him upside the head. “Just retrieve the arrows and sever the head; don’t need this thing pulling a resurrection on us. Plus proof of a slain demon, easy sixty crowns for that.”
“That’s twenty a piece!” Jonathan exclaimed before pulling out his dagger once more, taking a firm grip of one of the arrows lodged in the skull to gain better access to the creature’s neck and began sawing. “So you think he has some captives?”
“What?” I say, turning from the horizon to look at him, not really understanding the question.
“Captives. You said they sometimes take captives.” Jonathan explained, nodding his head to the great elk carcass harpooned to the demons back. “And that they don’t eat meat, right? That’s why he’d bring this back, to feed captives.”
“No, they never keep captives long… oh God, he must have someone with him!” I realize suddenly, all plans of a relaxing trip back home now banished from my mind. “Look him over; does he have any markings, like tattoos or anything?”
“Um… yeah, one right here on the back of his claw, burnt into his skin. Why, what’s that mean?” Jonathan said, looking at the prone hand in question, the strange diamond shaped sigil burned into the grey hide standing stark against the white snow and the blackened, simmering blood that was seeping from the demons corpse as he was sawing into thick sinew and tendon.
Jonathan launched back several feet as one of our special arrows rocketed from the darkness, ramming into, and through, his chest just beneath his right clavicle with a sickening squelching noise akin to the bursting of a rotting pumpkin. He hit the ground rolling, limbs slack and eyes wide as the life ebbed from them forever.
I roll to the left as another arrow soars past me, crashing through the underbrush behind me. As I roll up into a low crouch, I pull a long edged dagger and a small handheld crossbow; tools ill-advised for use against demons or the undead, but perfect for fighting a human.
“Samuel!” I shout, my voice echoing through the woods as if to mock me, the only response being a sudden torrent of wind and snow whipping through the trees, further obscuring my vision.
“Samuel is mine now, Raven.” A voice silky replies from the darkness, up close to where I’d left the younger man, a deep husky voice that could only belong to a woman. “Though I must thank you, I had wondered what I was going to end up calling him. It suits him.”
“Witch!” I hiss, cursing my arrogance and blatant laziness during the hunt. I could hear my old master in my head now, lecturing me to always check a demon for a mark, to see if it had a mortal servant or worse, a mortal master. If scarred, then they own man. If burned, than man own them.
“Come now little bird, you know you’ve lost; come out and meet the maker you so blindly follow, see if he has a reward for his favorite pet parakeet waiting for him in the afterlife.” The witch haughtily laughs, her voice coming from seemingly everywhere at once. Another arrow whizzes past me, forcing me to seek cover behind a tree.
She’d either enthralled Samuel or worse, killed him and reanimated him; either way he was a lost cause now. The only thing I could worry about was making sure this witch died before dawn… we had only stumbled upon the demon by luck, luck fueled by an old artifact that had given us a heads up. All of the other Ravens would now think the threat was gone and merely wait for me to return, or assume the mission had killed me and my men.
We really don’t have a long life expectancy, so it wouldn’t really be a farfetched idea.
But to leave a Witch roaming free? That was totally unacceptable.
With the mad woman cackling from all directions, I did my best to try and think of a way to kill her, hopefully without getting myself killed in the process. Each of my crossbow bolts was essentially a hollow wooden syringe full of an opium concentrate, while my dagger was coated in silver blessed by a priest on all-hallows eve, smeared with a putty-like mixture of salt, lemon juice and alcohol. Really either weapon would do, assuming I could actually land a blow on her. Sadly, my skills against Witches are hardly up to par.
That was what that fool Jonathan had been brought aboard for, due to his propensity for White Magic; now he was worthless to me, just another cold corpse laying in a freezing pool of his own fluids, due to my own arrogance.
A sudden smile graces my features as I stare at Jonathan’s corpse, a crazy idea coming to mind. Hell, I think morbidly, it’s worth a shot.

Part Four

Jotelf grinned with unholy abandon as she twisted the mind of her newest consort with but a simple gesture of her hand, ordering him to ready his bow for another volley. The coming snow flurries from the high mountains was making it more of a chore than necessary, but Jotelf was more than willing to savor her victory over the supposed protectors of mankind.
The demon they’d slain had been an utter beast to control, and an even bigger pain to command, so while she was truly annoyed at the loss of the asset, she was relieved at the same time
Ensnaring the demon had been a labor of love almost, leaving captured children out in vulnerable areas around a region well known for Demonic activity. Whether a rift to Hell existed somewhere in those hills or it was merely a tribe of demons that had escaped the abyss, Jotelf didn’t care. She could remember slowly coaxing the demon away from its pack before slamming it with some of her most offensive spells, crackling waves of lightning and great mounds of animated earth ripped free from the ground used as battering rams. She’d had to kill three other demons that had been close by before crippling the one she ended up Branding that day.
Now without the constant drain upon her magical reserves, she could begin tooling about with other branches of magic that had always interested her, especially now that she had a whole mountain range of virtually defenseless test subjects, thanks to her efforts well-spent getting into the mountain range.
Floating mere inches above the thick frosting of snow coating the forest floor, Jotelf’s lack of protective wear more than compensated by her own twisted magics, she floated forward to gaze down the slope where her demon had fallen. Just before she was about to call out another taunt to her trapped prey, she gasped in shock and awe as she saw him jogging up the hill, a long spear held in one hand and a curved knife in the other.
“My oh my, you are a stout one aren’t you!” She cried with glee, thinking of all the wonderful games she could play with him. Tugging at Samuel’s strings, she smiled as she mentally ordered him to fire at will, but to try not to kill him outright.
Samuel loosed his arrow; the javelin sized projectile connecting solidly with the lone Raven’s shoulder, causing him to stumble momentarily. His face, if not masked by those ridiculous hoods they all insisted on wearing, was blinded by the coming storm, the twisting winds roiling about them as if it were some behemoths heart beating, the howling winds too loud to even hear the Raven’s scream as the serrated arrowhead pierced his shoulder.
As Samuel cocked another arrow, Jotelf chose to end this charade once and for all, summoning forth her own internal energies into the physical realm, a tortured shriek filling the air as a crackling crimson orb began to form mere inches from her breast. She knew this spell well, having grown quite fond of it due to its propensity to causing widespread damage due to its explosive nature, and its propensity to cause the wounds of those that survived the blast to rapidly become infected.
“Goodbye little bird, I wish I could say you were worth the effort, but I do ever so much hate lying.” She muttered to herself as she swatted the crackling orb towards the advancing form of her enemy, his spear and dagger held low as he tromped up the hill sluggishly. The orb lazily hovered before her before darting forward, bobbing to and fro like a firefly trying to escape the clutches of a hungry bat.
Her aim was off by a few inches, the static orb striking him solidly in the chest rather than near his head. The effect was roughly the same, with a piercing cry and a low keening wail the orb burst like an overripe melon, great arcs of crimson energy lashing out with a razors edge. A font to blood sprayed from the gaping wound where his chest once was, scattered pieces of twisted leather and bits of bone exploding forth from the point of contact, throwing the insolent man back, his weapons falling from hands that were likely now dead.
The howls of the damned filled her ears, a private moment between her and her unholy patron that occurred whenever she tapped into her infernal powers. She’d long ago traded her humanity for something far greater, giving her once meaningless life as a nameless serf a sense of purpose. She shivered with untold lust as the gentle caress of her lord swept across her voluptuous features, down and over her curves like the hands of a lover. He was excited, she could tell.
Excited about receiving a new soul to sup upon. The foolish archer she’d ensnared in her enchantments would remain with her for the time being, as these cretins had actually managed to dispatch her personal guard and she was in need of a new one. But her newly disemboweled Raven now dying in the snow?
Meat for her Master.
Whispering the forbidden words of power, she stalked closer to the steaming corpse before her, once again gathering her mystical energies to serve her sadistic desires; the soul of the recently departed lingered for a time, and for one with the right knowledge, and the right skills, said soul could be bound into service to a Witch of significant enough power, to be used however she wished.
Her power was more than enough to ensnare the loosened soul of this cocky warrior, and a new soul for her infernal master would promise her a night of passion that she would not soon forget. The very thought of it brought a fluttering to her stomach and sudden warmth to her core… licking her lips sensually, she kneeled by the corpse, smiling at the work her spell had done.
The man’s armor had spared him the indignity of being blown to pieces though only just. All of his ribs were charred, with great scores of lines running along them as if someone had taken a knife to them. His insides were merely a cesspool of liquefied organ, a steaming caldron of human waste that was bubbling from the sudden heat of her fiery orb. Muttering the incantation slowly, she dipped a hand into her robe and pulled a crystal vial, dipping it into the impromptu soup she had made from her victim.
Dawn was quickly approaching, and she had yet to have anything to eat thanks largely in part to the pesky birds swooping in on her hunter. While perhaps not the most wholesome of foods she had eaten, she was no stranger to the flesh of man, and found herself on occasion quite hungry in a way that only a roasted spit of seared man-flesh could sate.
She finished her spell, waiting to feel the euphoric praise of her Lord wash over her once more… but found herself flacking her desired reward. I know I cast the spell right, I’ve done it a hundred times! She thought desperately. While completely loyal to her Lord, she knew he was not one to be trifled with, and would be expecting a soul from her soon. While the hours of passion his corporeal presence could offer her was well worth any risk, the punishments he often doled out were not. The only way the spell would fail would be if he’d already moved on… but I just killed him!
Bursting from the bubbling stew of bile and sinew, three small wooden bolts launched themselves out of her victim’s chest and into her own, forming a tight trio of thin needle-tipped crossbow bolts. Before her shocked eyes, small clockwork mechanisms at the end of each bolt began to whiz and whir, cogs spinning as the needles pumped something into her chest… something bad.
Desperately she tore at the syringes, but her vision was already swimming from whatever was hidden within the darts. Vaguely, she could see a blood-soaked arm rise from her freshest kills chest, followed by another holding a small crossbow. Crawling from the gaping chest wound was the third Raven, his hood no longer covering his startlingly striking features. A thick Slavic nose sat above a closely cropped goatee, a long loosely bound ponytail dangling wetly behind him. His eyes, an artic grey, gazed into hers as he gave her a small smile.
“Looks like pride won the day once more, eh Witch?” He said with a deep baritone. “Had you just killed Samuel instead of revealing yourself like that, you could have easily taken us all out. But instead, you’re now our captive.”
Desperately struggling against the drugs pumping through her veins, Jotelf stumbled back drunkenly, leaning heavily against a warped tree as she took deep rasping breaths. Her mind’s eye was swimming and unfocused, so weakened by her condition she could hardly even strum the thread of magic connecting her to Samuel, who could easily resist her siren’s calls now that they lacked her normal strength of will.
“You taught me a valuable lesson Witch, and for that I’m going to spare your life.” The man continued on, slowly easing himself from the corpse of his fallen friend. “The way I figure it, Sammy and I should take you to see what you came all this way to see, turn you over to the Elders so they can decide what to do with you. Between your pet’s head and you yourself, Sam and I have probably racked up an easy two-hundred crowns.”
“Just… l-like a crow…” She slurs, struggling to keep her eyes open, to remain focused. “P-p-pick on the dead… like your friend there.”
A look of sorrow briefly flashes across his features before being covered up. The man shrugs, stepping out of the torso fully now. He must have been walking behind him the whole time, using his friend’s cold corpse as a puppet. “Jonathan was a good man; a man who helped rid the world of evil. His wife and unborn child will be receiving a cut of what would rightfully be his, of that I can assure you.”
“I… know… this…” She gasps her vision growing dimmer by the second. “By the end of this… I’ll have you on your back, screaming… for mercy.”
And she did know that… at least before she faded into the darkness and then knew nothing.

Credit To – Nicholas Paschall

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Threes and Sevens

September 19, 2015 at 12:00 PM
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Three and seven; the fold was imminent.
I looked conspicuously around at the other two player’s faces to see if they were pleased with their hands. Number two gave a slight gaze of confidence in his elevated eyebrows and balanced lips. He has to have something good in his hand if he’s giving those kinds of looks under these circumstances. I looked over to number five. Apart from his intimidated look, his hands were shaking so nervously that I was surprised he could even get a good read on his cards. He’s clearly cracking under the pressure; he can’t take much more of this. Hell, I’m not even sure if I can.
There were ten of us at the start of the game, now only three remained. Time is ticking down; one of us is going to be the winner of this twisted game of poker. Our lives are on the line after all.
It’s hard to recall how I got here. I came to Vegas to get a weekend away from the norm I was used to. I booked a hotel planning to spend the money I made that week on slots and gambling tables. The last thing I remember was yelling at one of the dealers in the casino during a drunken stupor, and then I woke up here with nine others just as confused as I was. When we first woke up most of us were begging for answers, others were screaming for them. We were trapped in individual chairs by leg restraints, unable to move our legs the slightest inch, yet our arms could be moved about as freely as we wanted to. We were trapped and gathered for unknown reasons, in some dark room, in some unknown location.
We all had a look about us, the one thing we all had in common; gamblers. People who spent way too much of their time at the tables for one more chance at hitting it big. Like the stench of flirting with chance countless times reeked abundantly on our sweat ridden clothes. It was the sole reason as to why we were kidnapped and restrained around a poker table; the monument to all our sins.
The room itself was dank and filthy. Grime and muck littered the plastered walls like a rotted carcass. A single light hung down from the ceiling over the poker table that sat before us, just enough to illuminate the surroundings so we wouldn’t be completely grossed out by the state of the room. A heavy steel door was the only sign of escape from this hell hole, though it’s not like we were in a position to make a run for it anyway. The only other items of interest in the room were two cameras in opposite corners along the wall and a single speaker system just above the door. That was how our captor would communicate with us.
“Number seven!” the man over the speaker yelled. “Make a choice, you’re holding up the game.”
I was kicked out of my train of thought and looked back down at my hand. Three of diamonds and the seven of clubs; a pretty shitty hand no matter the situation. Of course, the flop hadn’t taken place yet so it was still pretty earlier to cast out my chances completely. There were no chips on the line in this game. This was a special kind of game, one that was being watched over by a psychopath.
“I’ll check,” I said as I tapped the table twice.
“Good,” the voice over the speaker said. “Now we can finally move on with our lives. Two, you’re up.”
That voice over the speaker, he was the one who locked us in here. I only know that because he stated it clearly enough for us all to hear. A few minutes after we woke up he interrupted our panic to tell us why we were here. He said he collected us because we all had a gambling addiction, something that was rather common around the Vegas casinos. Since we liked to play so much, he offered us a chance to play his own little game of gambling with fate.
The rules were simple; a ten man game of Texas Hold ‘Em with no chips involved. The person with the weakest hand at the end of each round would be disqualified and “dealt with” as he put it. Folds were allowed but in order to keep the game going each player was only allowed five folds for the entirety of the game. Last man standing gets the reward, twenty-five million dollars. Before the game began, he proposed the chance for any one of us to drop out of the game. He said that those who chose to drop would be sedated and woken up back in their hotel rooms as if nothing happened. But once the game started, those who chose to play would have to continue playing until they lost.
I don’t know why I didn’t raise my hand to be taken out. I would’ve woken up back in my hotel room, packed my things, and jumped on the first plane back home. None of us wanted to back out with that kind of reward on the table; we were all too enamored with taking stiff chances. I’ll give the guy over the speaker credit for one thing; all of us do have an addiction.
“I’m going to check as well then,” number two said. He seemed overtly confident in his hand, but it could all very well be a façade. It’s never easy to judge people in poker.
Two was the oldest out of the ten of us, and therefore likely had the most experience. He made it this far after all, so something had to be keeping him going. He had a grizzled voice which audibly displayed his wear and tear over the years. He seemed calm and collected, as though he had curiously been in this type of situation before. Maybe he really did; like I said, never easy to judge people in poker.
“Good choice Two,” the voice behind the speaker said. “Five, you’re turn.”
Five never stopped shaking. Between the circumstances around him and the fright of being locked away in some dark room playing a game of poker, he couldn’t control himself. He looked to be the youngest out of all the players, it would’ve come to a surprise to me if he was any age above twenty-one. His glasses were constantly on the verge of dropping off his nose as sweat dripped off his skin like rain drops. It surprises and astounds me how he managed to make it this far; dumb luck I suppose. Still, he didn’t look like he could take much more, and aside from the current condition of his well-being his hand probably wasn’t all that great either.
“I, I don’t want to do this anymore,” Five said nervously. “I can’t take this. Let me out!”
“You had your chance Five!” the voice replied. “You all had a chance to leave but none of you took it! Seven of you already paid for it and you’ll be next if you don’t play your fucking hand!”
Tears started streaming out of the corner of Five’s eyes. He was on the verge of a total psychotic breakdown. He clearly didn’t want to go on; at this point I’m certain none of us did. He was clearly taking it the worst.
“Come on son,” Two said. “I know this is messed up but we don’t have a choice. You’re out of folds, you’ve got to play.”
“Easy for you to say,” Five said behind his blubbered sobs. “You’ve only used one so far! What if I lose this hand? I don’t want to end up like the others.”
The others, how easily they dropped like flies. Number eight was the first to go. She was a pretty young thing, probably in her late twenties if I had to guess. Her final hand was a two and a four, the weakest among the lot of us that round. The man over the speaker thanked her for playing and told her she would be seen out. That was when a large figure who looked to be dressed as some sort of executioner from the past entered the room, grabbed her chair, and dragged her off beyond the door. It was faint from behind the metal, but we could hear her blood curtailing screams echoing from down the hall. It was enough to send all of us into paranoia. Most of us tried to force ourselves out of our chairs and screamed to be let go. That was when the voice told us we had our chance to leave, but the cold truth was that we all chose to stay. We had to play out the game until only one was left. It took a few minutes before everyone had calmed down enough to continue playing, but since then the game has been continuously played with shaking fingers and frightened looks.
Now we were down to three players. Myself and Two both had two folds remaining, Five had none left to spare.
“Seven!” the voice shouted. “Did you forget you’re dealing this round? Play the flop!”
I looked down at the deck of cards in front of me, a stack of cheap cardboard that hung our fate in the balance. We all had proved we loved gambling with fate by agreeing to play this game, but none of us had gambled to such an extreme before.
I slowly picked up the deck and began to play the cards. Burn, flip, flip, flip.
The flop consisted of the Ace of Hearts, the Jack of Spades, and the Six of Hearts. My hand was looking weaker by the second. Two kept his composure while Five continued to sob behind his two cards.
“Well well well,” the voice said, “interesting line up. Seems you’re stuck with those cards Five, but will either of you two want to fold I wonder?”
My chances of winning this hand were looking slim. I had two folds left, maybe now was the time to use one of them. I’ve played poker plenty of times before, and this type of lineup usually didn’t turn its way back around in my favor. Reluctantly, I had to do it.
“Fold,” I said as I tossed my cards towards the middle of the table.
“Hmm,” the voice replied, “interesting choice Seven. Though I can’t really blame you, your hand was pretty sad.”
I gave a disgusted look to one of the cameras. I had half the mind to flip off that annoying prick behind the speaker, but I didn’t want end up like the others nor push my luck. It was something I wasn’t used to.
“I’ll check,” Two said with a sigh.
“Do I have any other choice,” Five said in tandem with sniffles from his nose.
“Keep dealing Seven,” the voice said.
I dealt the next cards out onto the table. Burn, flip.
The Six of Clubs laid out next to the line of faced up cards. Two looked back at his hand; Five began to sink deeper into depravity.
“Check” Two said quietly.
I looked to Five to get his response, but he was in no condition to speak. The tears continued to flow from his eyes as he slowly met my gaze with his own. In his eyes I could see absolute loss; the loss of strength, the loss to continue, the loss of all hope within him. He was broken to his very core, lost in a realm between horror and misery that he saw no way of exiting. Fate had played its hand; Five was left to face the consequences.
Burn… flip.
The final card was the King of Diamonds. It was as though the king himself jumped off the card and swung his axe right across Five’s neck. The poor kid couldn’t control himself at the sight of the king. He started to beg and plead for his life to be spared. And for the first time since the game had started, pleading from one of the players was answered.
“Wait,” the voice said, “don’t flip your cards yet. Number Two, look into Five’s eyes. Look at the desperation on his face. This kid doesn’t want to lose; he doesn’t want to face the consequences of a loser. You can prolong his loss you know. If you fold now, you can give Five another shot at staying in the game. Of course, that’s at the expense of you losing one of your folding privileges. Are you willing to throw away a victory in order to give him another chance? Come on, you like to take gambles; you’ve been doing it all your life. What makes now so different? Just remember what’s at stake.”
For a few moments, Two couldn’t take his eyes of the cards lined up on the table. He seemed to be deep in his own realm of thought, oblivious to the constant pleading coming across the table from Five. It seemed to me that he was thinking long and hard about the possibility of helping Five. Was he willing to lower his chances of winning by raising Five’s chances ever so slightly? But then the more obvious outcome came to mind. He wasn’t sure how he was going to tell this kid he would be signing his death certificate.
Two looked up from his cards and stared right into Five’s bloodshot eyes. And with a look of absolute anguish, he did just that.
“I’m sorry kid, I really am.”
Two flipped his hand over on the table revealing the King of Spades and the Six of Diamonds; full house. Five couldn’t utter a word. With a trembling hand he flipped his cards with solemn absolution. The Two of Clubs and the Four of Hearts. His fate was sealed in black and red.
“Tisk, tisk, tisk,” the voice said with wickedness. “Thanks for playing Five, but I do believe it’s time for you to go.”
The metal door swung open with a clang as the executioner made his way towards Five.
“No please, don’t do this!” Five yelled. “I don’t want to die. I’ll never go near a gambling table again, I learned my lesson. Just let me go!”
The executioner attempted to drag Five away in his chair, but the violent thrashing and flailing was too much for him to keep under control. As though possessed by the devil, Five was hell bent on prolonging his death in any way he could. The commotion continued as the voice behind the speaker broke over the screaming.
“Please shut him up, won’t you?”
With quick timing and maneuvering, the executioner was able to wrap his right arm around Five’s neck, putting him in an unfaltering strangle hold. Five began to choke for air as he clawed at the massive arm of the executioner. I gazed upon the scene with a horrified look, wondering how it all could have come to this. Two could only close his eyes and look away, attempting to set himself as far away from the scene as he could. It wasn’t far enough.
Pressure became tighter and tighter as Five desperately tried to cling for life. I watched as Five’s eyes began to roll into the back of his head to the sound of choked gasps of desperation. And with a forceful grunt and swift motion, the executioner snap shifted his entire torso to the right, breaking Five’s neck with a thunderous crack. As he loosened his choke hold around Five’s limp lifeless body, his chair fell back towards the ground emitting a heavy thud. The executioner caught his breath, grabbed the top rail of Five’s chair, and dragged his body off beyond the metal door. Deafening silence filled the room as Two and I sat there in disbelief. It wasn’t until the voice spoke again that the dreadful silence was lifted.
“And then there were two. You both should be congratulating yourselves for making it this far. I’m sure the others would wish they were in your position, too bad for them that they aren’t with us anymore. Think of this next round as a game in honor of their memory. I can’t say this hasn’t been fun, but I do believe we should wrap this up, so Two why don’t you go ahead and deal?”
I looked over to Two with morbid fright. He hadn’t moved an inch since Five had been killed. He was far off in his own repression, attempting to block out the horrors that surrounded us both.
“Two!” the voice blurted. “Pick up the fucking deck and deal the cards!”
He looked up to me with the same look as Five had before I flipped the King of Diamonds. He looked like a man who had seen too much, experienced too much. The tears flowed down his cheek like the tears of a man who was willing to simply let go and fall into the pits of despair. I imagine I had the same look in my eyes as well.
“Whatever happens,” he said, “I’m sorry.”
I gave a quick nod in agreement.
“I am too.”
He slowly grabbed the deck of cards from the table, gave a slow sluggish shuffle, and dealt out two cards for each of us. With trembling hands I slowly swiped up the cards and looked upon them with utter terror.
Four and nine; the fold was imminent.

Credit To – Mike Kane

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September 18, 2015 at 12:00 PM
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“Sixty seconds.”

The coxswain’s warning was punctuated by the deafening thud of the Zodiac’s hull hammering into an oncoming swell. Although my eyes were locked on the stern of the rapidly approaching cargo ship, I found myself involuntarily reaching for my vest, taking account of all of my equipment for the ninth time since we set off of dry land; spare magazines, flashbangs, knife, radio, sidearm. Obsessive compulsive tendencies satisfied, I nevertheless felt unnervingly vulnerable amidst the angry sea.

“Whose bloody brilliant idea was this again?” I yelled against the howling wind and drone of the Zodiac’s outboards.

The rest of the crew manning the raft remained silent, although the local mercenaries looked to be enjoying my evident trepidation.

“You have to admit they sure as hell won’t expect this,” Mathew shouted back, as he checked the magazine on his rifle.

“That’s because this,” I gestured at the boat as it pitched violently, “is suicide.”

The sky roared its affirmation as a lightning bolt struck close enough to smell ozone. If there was any doubt before, the timing of the outburst confirmed my belief that the sea fully intended to punish me for my impending transgression against
maritime conduct.

“Shut it,” Ryan barked as the boat pulled up to the starboard quarter of the behemoth, the name A Carat Votive dimly visible amidst pockmarks of rust, courtesy of decades of service. “Ready the hooks. Team one, disembark and head below deck. Sweep the area for the crew; mess hall, sleeping quarters, engine room, even the damn head, everything.”

Mathew nodded to his team of mercenaries as they fired the grappling hooks over the railing of the ship, suspending a makeshift cargo net ladder that began to seem increasingly frail in the face of current weather conditions. Wordlessly, Mathew punched my shoulder with a grin as he dismounted the Zodiac and followed his team up the ladder. The second he disappeared from view at the top the coxswain gunned the boat forward, bringing the remaining team closer to the midship and the bridge, as the mercenaries of team two prepared the modified harpoon guns once more. Moments later I was halfway up the hull of the ship, clinging to the rungs, frantically trying to get away from the rolling ocean. Below, Ryan gave the coxswain the signal and he throttled off, turning the small craft around back towards the mercy of dry land.

I dragged myself over the rail less than gracefully, flopping onto the ship’s deck like a fish out of water. One of the mercenaries gave me a disapproving look as I dragged myself to my feet. Another bolt of lightning illuminated an endless sea of shipping containers as I got my bearings straight. After the nightmare of approaching the ship in the bobbing Zodiac, the relative stability of the cargo ship was a blessing. I heard a grunt behind me, unceremoniously announcing Ryan’s presence on the ship. Ahead, one of the mercenaries was already opening the door that led to the ship’s interior. Light spilled out from the doorway, bathing the ship’s deck with a warm yellow glow and illuminating my drenched boots. The four of us sulked inside the ship’s tower, Ryan quietly closing the door behind us before gesturing towards the steel staircase leading to the bridge.

As we ascended the metal stairs, I was taken aback by how well maintained the interior of the ship was. Despite being an admittedly small sample size, it was immaculate; well lit, no scratches on the walls, not even a scuff mark on any of the stairs. Aside from the veritable puddles we were now leaving behind, there was no sign anyone lived upon this ship at all. Despite the significant presence of rust on its exterior, the ship was in much better shape than the last couple we had visited. I found myself putting the condition of the exterior of the ship down as an intentional deterrent for people like myself. Good, maybe they actually have the cargo. For the first time since this endeavour started, I began to get my hopes up. The weeks of drills, the miserable raft ride, the torrential downpour now oozing back out of my clothes; they might all be worth it in the end. Emboldened by this knowledge, I followed Ryan up towards bridge door. He glanced back briefly, making sure everyone was ready before he threw open the door.

“Well, come on in,” a voice wafted through the open doorway. “Mind the step would you.”

I looked down at the raised step of the door frame as we filtered into the room and spread out, weapons raised and scanning the bridge. It was empty, save for the individual sitting at the helm with his legs kicked up, filling out a rather tattered Mad Libs book.

“Took me a couple months to stop tripping on that every morning,” the man gestured with the book as he reached for the beer on the desk next to him. He took a swig of the midnight black liquid before setting the bottle down and getting back to filling in the blanks with a chuckle. “So what can I help you with?”

If Ryan was puzzled by the man’s nonchalant demeanour, or the lack of officers aboard the bridge, he wasn’t showing it. “Officers and the CO, where are they?” he asked curtly, the barrel of his rifle aimed squarely at the man at the table, as the mercenaries set about the bridge, muting communications and searching for the shipping manifest. With a sigh, the man put down his source of amusement and rose to his feet. Turning towards us, he casually brushed out the creases of his white
uniform before addressing Ryan with a salute.

“Can’t speak for the officers but I’m sure they’re around here somewhere. Captain Anders Niequist of A Carat Votive,” the man beamed as he offered his outstretched hand to Ryan, who glared at it in return. Niequist looked slightly offended as he withdrew his hand, moving to lean back against the helm with his arms crossed. “So what brings you aboard my ship?”

“You know why we’re here,” Ryan barked back, his patience beginning to show signs of wear. He was used to the crews of civilian ships cowering in fear at the sight of loaded firearms pointed in their direction. The officers being below deck was an unfortunate setback but they now fell under the other team’s jurisdiction. He motioned for me to keep an eye on Niequist as he moved towards one of the mercenaries scanning a thick binder with an orange cover, either the manifest or the ship’s log. I brought my rifle to bear on Niequist’s chest, having no intention of shooting him but knowing full well the value of armed deterrence. Niequist himself continued to look unperturbed as the rest of my team went over the contents of the binder, monitoring their progress with arctic blue eyes.

“Looking for anything in particular or just window shopping?” he queried after a few minutes of fruitless searching.

Ryan opened his mouth to respond, presumably with an order to shut him up, but was cut off by a buzz of static followed by Mathew’s voice on the radio.
“…-ind them. Crew nowhere to be seen. Crew quarters empty, mess deck empty, even the bloody bog. Proceeding to engine deck. Keep an eye out up there.”
Ryan advanced on Nyquist and struck him with the butt of his rifle. He took a step back as the captain brought himself to his feet, drops of scarlet from the open wound on his cheek transforming his white uniform into a Rorschach test.

“I’m not going to ask you again. Where is the crew?” the question carried the promise of further violence should the response be unsatisfactory. Nielsen reached beside him for the beer, rinsing blood from his mouth with the stout while considering his response. “I told them to hide in the engine room when we saw you coming,” he shrugged as he put the now empty bottle back on the table. The colour drained from my face as it dawned on me that the other team was now heading towards a room full of prepared, and possibly armed, crewmen, rather than the sleeping or weary crew we expected.

Ryan wasted no time in thumbing the switch on the radio and screaming at the team to hold their position. The radio offered soft static in response.
“Either the storm or the layers of steel are interrupting the signal,” he muttered to himself. “You two head over and warn them, or help them clean up. We’ll hold the bridge.” He turned Niequist around and restrained his wrists with zip ties before seating him back at the helm, sidearm levelled against his head.

Trembling, I motioned for one of the mercenaries to follow me down below
deck, the successfully swallowed bile from the hellish boat trip now bubbling back into my throat. In my nervousness I tripped over the door frame as I exited, drawing a burst of laughter from the restrained captain behind me, earning himself another retaliatory strike from Ryan. Thankfully the mercenary that accompanied me maintained his composure, steadying my nerves somewhat as we quickly descended down the stairs into the bowels of the massive ship. Eventually the sounds of thunder faded and the distant hum of the ship’s engines took its place, the ship’s rolling causing the engines’ notes to oscillate, making them sound more like beating hearts than mechanical beasts of burden. A small strip of stainless steel with engraved lettering announced our arrival at one of the arteries that led to the engine room, me and my partner raising our rifles in unison as we entered the empty hallway. We rushed along the hall, alternating responsibility for checking the doors that lay ajar on either side of the corridor; a storage closet here, a small office there, all devoid of life. Nothing to suggest anyone’s been here at all, I thought as we turned a corner at the end of the hall, following another sign directing us to the core of the ship.

Abruptly the lights cut out. For a couple seconds of panic, me and the mercenary stood in pitch darkness, the throb of the engine deafeningly loud as my ears attempted to compensate for my blindness. Fortunately the mercenary packed better than I had, procuring a small flashlight from his vest, turning it on and handing it to me, clearly insinuating he was more comfortable with me operating a flashlight than a firearm in my current state. Hastily, I slung my rifle over my shoulder, taking the flashlight and removing my sidearm from its holster just as the ship’s emergency lighting kicked in, bathing everything in dim red. Before we managed to get moving again, a speaker somewhere in the hallway crackled to life.

“Check one, two, this thing still work?” it was unmistakably Niequist’s voice, followed by a couple of tapping noises and what sounded like him blowing into a microphone. “This is your captain speaking. Break’s over. We’ve got work to do.”

My first instinct was to run back to the bridge, unable to believe Niequist had somehow managed free himself and incapacitated two of the team. The mercenary clearly considered the same course of action before firmly shaking his head and motioning towards the hallway. The message was clear: too late to go back. The only thing to do was head forward and regroup with the other team. Reluctantly I nodded and began advancing down the hall, clutching the flashlight like a talisman. My partner took two steps behind me before he let loose a piercing scream. I turned around immediately, the beam of the flashlight falling upon the hilt of a boarding axe now firmly buried in the back of the mercenary. Just beyond was the blank face of a man dressed in navy overalls betraying his position as a crewman of this ship. Instinctively I raised my sidearm and fired twice, punching through the man’s torso and deepening the red of the hallway. He emitted a short scream that died alongside him, leaving just the grimacing and foreign swearing emanating from my colleague as he struggled to pry the axe from his back, drawing another yell of pain. His cries of pain tore me away from staring at the sailor’s corpse, and I managed to pull the weapon out before throwing it on the ground with disgust.

He attempted to proceed down the hallway for a few steps before the pain of movement became excruciating. He slumped against the wall and slid to the floor, a bloody smear tailing him down. I made a move to help him back up but he simply waved me away, a look of grim resignation on his face. He readied his weapon and angled his body to face the hall from the direction we had come from, clearly intent on preventing the same fate from befalling me. I expressed my gratitude, although I’m not sure he understood, and began to rush down the hallway towards the engine room, attempting to reach it as soon as humanly possible. The hallway was devoid of any notable landmarks, the monotonous red glow seeming to stretch endlessly forward. Eventually, I heard voices ahead, causing me to slow my pace, carefully trying to mask my footfalls on the steel floor. Sure enough, they were coming from a doorway claiming to lead to the engine room. Seeing no signs of struggle, I carefully crept into the room.

There was no emergency lighting in the engine room, rendering it pitch dark. Holding the flashlight before me, I followed the sound of the voices fighting over the din of the engines. Realizing my flashlight would serve as a lighthouse for anyone within waiting to ambush me, I stopped feet from the doorway. Instead of progressing in, I decided to throw caution to the wind and call out Mathew’s name. Rather than going silent, the voices seemed to get louder, before I heard Mathew yell my name back. Emboldened by the sound of a friendly voice, I moved further into the room, stepping around the first engine. So far so good, I thought as I moved towards the second massive machine. The voices grew louder as I approached, before my foot hit an object on the floor. Freezing in place, I craned my neck downwards, bringing the light to bear on what it was I had stepped on.

It was a vest, not unlike the one I wore, albeit packed in a different manner. As I slowly crouched to pick it up, the voices grew louder and more distinct, now recognizably coming from the corner of the room just beyond the second engine. Clutching the vest in my hands, I now noticed that it held some expended magazines, alongside liberal amounts of blood. With the voices now reaching a crescendo, drowning out even the engines beside me, I took one of the flares out of the vest, unwilling to go any further. Taking a deep breath I lit the flare, illuminating the engine room with what seemed like a small sun. Not seeing the end of the room, I threw it towards the sound of the voices, watching as it hit the floor and rolled towards the corner.

In response, the wall recoiled. What I took to be the wall revealed itself to be merely something enveloping the emergency lights of the engine room. I took a step back as the darkness of the wall ponderously approached the light of the flare, tentatively reaching out for it with shadowy tendrils before voraciously descending upon it and consuming it with the sound of a hundred growls. Without another thought I turned around and broke out in a full sprint for the bridge. Surely whatever waited for me there was preferable to what I was leaving behind. Behind me I heard howling screams causing me to risk a glance back; the contents of the room were spilling into the hall, filling it entirely with disturbing rapidity. Still clutching the meagre flashlight in my hand I noticed the smear on the wall that marked the spot I had left the mercenary. Neither his body nor his assailant’s were visible, however my only reaction at the time was being grateful for having less things to stumble over as I sprinted down the hall.

Rounding the corner we had passed earlier on our way in, I spared a second to gauge the progress of the darkness. I immediately regretted my decision, realizing that the darkness would soon overtake me entirely, long before I could get back to what I now perceived to be the safety of the bridge. The screams behind me nipped at my heels as I fumbled with a flashbang on my vest. Once I had a firm grasp on the small cylinder I tore it out of its pocket, pulled the pin, and dropped it behind be. I firmly grasped my ears as I ran forward, mentally counting the time to detonation. It exploded with the force of a lightning bolt, momentarily painting everything with stark white light. Against my better judgement, I felt compelled to turn around to see the effects my panicked action had. The darkness had stopped in its tracks, now writhing in pain and attempting to put out the embers licking at its corners. Unwilling to let it recover, I primed another flashbang and threw it towards the darkness before bolting the last dozen yards towards the staircase. Behind me I heard a primal roar reverberating down the hall as the grenade detonated. Reaching the end of the hall, I slammed the bulkhead door shut, locking it behind me.

Under no illusion that the door would actually provide me sanctuary, I began ascending the steps, unslinging my rifle and taking off the safety. As I reached deck level I heard voices outside, along with sounds of exertion amidst thousands of heavy raindrops banging against the steel door. Unwilling to engage with more of the crew, I crept past the door we had first entered though and proceeded upstairs to the bridge, praying someone was still alive. The door at the top of the staircase was still open, beckoning me to enter. I obliged, stepping into what can only be described as a bloodbath; gore covered much of the floor and the forward facing windows. The remains of some zip ties and shattered glass could be seen in a particularly thick puddle pooled under the chair we had left the captain in. Nearby, the neck of a broken beer bottle rolled around with the swells of the sea, coming to rest against the door frame with a soft clink. I fought back the urge to vomit as I stepped behind the navigation console to look around for bodies. I had no success in finding any, instead settling my eyes on the open shipping manifesto still lying on the console. Container 308D was frantically circled in blue pen, the sender simply listed as ‘Treasury’ with no further content specifications. They found it, I thought with a degree of relief, desperately rationalizing that my team could have left the captain behind to raid the contents of the container, presumably after some interrogation to get him to reveal the location of the prize. Before I could consider my next course of action, the radio blazed to life with the sound of gunfire and yelling.

“-nyone alive? Two of us left at the stern. Can’t keep them back forever! Come in!” I recognized Mathew’s voice over the sounds of battle.

Frantically I keyed the radio and responded. “I’m on the bridge, but it’s just me. Not sure what happened to Ryan, but one of our guys took an axe from the crew.”

“Good to hear a friendly voice!” Gunfire interrupted him as he yelled for his remaining mercenary to cover him. “There’s something in the engine room, jammed our radios, took out two of my guys-” I heard frantic footfalls and a ricochet. “We got back topside in time to see the crew getting out of a shipping container. They knew we were coming.”

“I know. Their captain didn’t seem surprised by our arrival.”

I heard a yelp of pain on the radio along with some muttered curses before Mathew responded. “The bastard on the speaker? I thought you guys had the bridge locked down!” I opened my mouth to respond but stopped when he continued. “Listen, get on their comms, send out a distress signal and get someone on the line! Either our guy will pick it up on the open channel or another ship will come to aid us. I’ll take prison time over dying on this damn boat!”

“On it.” I gave the room a once over before spotting the communications booth that the mercenary had previously shut down to prevent the crew from radioing for help. The irony of my situation was not lost on me as I booted it back up, grabbing the
plugged in headset.

“This is A Carat Votive. We are in need of urgent assistance. We have a hull leak and we’re taking on water quickly. Anyone there? Respond!” I repeated the message a couple of times to no avail. As I was about to give up hope, a response came over the line.

“This is HMS Ferdinand, we have you on radar. Rerouting to assist. On site in twenty minutes. Over.”

“Copy that,” I couldn’t hide the relief from my voice, desperate to get off of this ship by any means possible.

As I removed the headset from my ear I became aware of soft breathing behind me. As I moved to turn, weapon raised, I felt a balled fist connect with my jaw, knocking me back into the communications console and making me see stars. I fired my rifle blindly, the bullets flying through empty air before nestling themselves in the steel wall. Before my eyes could adjust, rough hands disarmed me and threw me to the ground, cracking my head against the floor and renewing my disorientation. My attacker stepped away from me to pick up the headset.

“Niequist here. Disregard that, we just have some guests that got a hold of the radio.”

I tried to crane my neck off the deck to scream back at the other ship’s operator that Niequist was lying, but was met by his boot heel as he brought it down on my head. Before I lost consciousness I heard the operator’s faint reply.

“Ferdinand copies, good hunting sir.”

I was woken up by rain hitting me face. I started to get up only to realize I was bound, lying outside on the deck. As I gathered my bearings I noticed a dozen men and women in navy overalls dragging what looked like body bags over to the edge of the railing, one of them still visibly writhing from within. Noticing I was now awake, a man in a black raincoat walked over to me.

“Good to see you’re awake.” Niequist spoke with what sounded like sincerity. “Cracked your head real good on the floor. I was worried you wouldn’t wake up.”

I blankly stared at him before my eyes were drawn once more to the railing as the first of the body bags was thrown over by a couple of crewmen. Its disappearance was followed by a splash a couple seconds later. He followed my gaze.

“Sailors like to speak about the sea as though it were a living thing. As though it’s something that can be fought, or seduced with boldness. It’s a bit romantic really,” Niequist paused as another body bag was thrown over the rail. “It’s not too far of the mark.”

“Please just let me go,” I begged, realizing I had no other options.

“I’d like to, believe me I would,” he began, “but that would be in violation of my
contract. You stumbling onto my ship wasn’t just happenstance.”

I looked at him sharply as he shared a knowing smile.

“What? You think you were the first group to hear mumbled rumours in the taverns of a decrepit old ship transporting a container of gold on behalf of foreign investors?” he laughed. “No, but, if it’s any consolation, you likely won’t be the last either. Those rumours only made it ashore because we allowed them to.” He tapped on the container behind him. “308D was it? Let’s have a look.” He unlocked the doors of the container and swung them open before stepping aside to let me see its contents. It was empty. I stared at it in silence for a few moments before the sound of another heavy splash broke my trance.

“Why?” I eventually asked as he lit himself a cigarette and adjusted a brass button on the sleeve of his coat.

“For all intents and purposes, the sea is a living thing,” he took a drag on the cigarette, longingly staring out at the roiling ocean. “The ships that have safely crossed it over the millennia have done so only because it has allowed them to. It could just as easily have torn every one of them asunder. It doesn’t, because then no one would dare set foot in it.” He shot me a grin. “How then would it feed?”
My eyes inadvertently fell back to the deck, becoming transfixed on the moving body bag being lifted by two of the crew. As they hoisted it over the rail, Niequist continued.

“The sea is incredibly influential. How much of civilization directly depended on its co-operability in order to thrive? Fortunately, it can be bargained with.” He began to close the container behind him. “Someone, somewhere in time managed to strike a deal: sacrifice a few, in order to promise safe passage for the many. The benefits of the exchange were great enough for us to prioritize prolonging the partnership.”

As the crew finished their grisly work they turned their attention to me. I started thrashing at my bindings as I realized what was coming. Mercifully, Niequist waved them away.

“That’s where you lot come in.” He smiled as he crouched to get eye level with me, his stare chilling me more than the rain had. “Enough government money has been spent on anti-piracy patrols, and armed escorts for merchant ships. Eventually someone figured ‘hey, why not kill two birds with one stone’, which led to the chartering of this particular ship. We get rid of a few pirates, and we hold up our end of the bargain in the process. Sacrificing innocents is unlikely to go down well, regardless of the benefits. Hand over a few impoverished pirates and society doesn’t even bat an eye.”

The realization dawned on me. “The other ship-”

“They’re aware of our responsibility, and as such they tend to leave us to our own devices.”

“But the thing in the engine room-” As if it was eavesdropping on the conversation a deep bellow came from below the deck. Niequist simply tapped the floor.

“It’s here as an emissary of sorts, makes sure things are running smoothly,” he replied, “No one makes an investment without having someone keeping an eye on it, although it does claim a cut of the take from time to time.”

The crew standing around began growing restless with the prolonged conversation. Niequist took another look at me before standing up and backing away. On cue, a couple crewmen came over and began dragging me towards the edge of the ship. Despite the futility, I clawed at my restraints, yelling at the top of my lungs. Niequist dropped his cigarette, snuffing it out with his heel.

“If it were up to me I’d simply shoot you and throw your corpse overboard, but I’ve been told it likes live bait.” He shouted as he walked away. He turned back as I was pulled to my feet with another grin. “It also loves a fight.”

Suddenly I no longer had ground beneath me, and I plunged towards the hungry sea, distant laughter ringing in my ears.

Credit To – Walrus is Too a Verb

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New Home

September 15, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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With his new bride in his arms, Gavin stepped across the threshold of their new home.

He set her down carefully on her feet and steadied her balance. Between her puffy wedding gown, the three inch heels she wore, and all the champagne she had drunk, Gavin figured his new wife could use his support. She smiled brightly despite being tipsy and marveled at the exquisite foyer.

“Darling!” exclaimed Victoria. “This had to cost you a fortune!”

As Victoria stepped deeper into the foyer and admired the marble floors, high ceilings, and rich mahogany furniture accents, Gavin loosened his bow-tie and congratulated himself on finally making it.

For a man in his early 40’s Gavin had been through several hardships. He had been raised on welfare and never knew his father. His brother had died in a drug overdose when Gavin was in high school. And, most disturbing, his mother had disappeared when Gavin was in college and was never found. It had been difficult finding a bank that would grant him a loan to attend college, but when one did, Gavin made the most of it. He had studied hard, rose to the top of his class, and earned a prestigious internship at one of Connecticut’s top law firm’s upon graduating and never looked back. But in all his years of success, he never dreamed he’d fall in love with a woman as beautiful as Victoria.

Like other love stories, he had met her at a coffee shop. It was a ‘mom and pop’ establishment in the heart of Bridgeport. Gavin had always loved small cafes and had been growing annoyed with the bad attitudes of the baristas he usually encountered from others, so when he drove along Water Street and saw a new place, he all but slammed on the brakes.

Victoria had been setting out fresh pastries when Gavin stepped in. She immediately caught his eye. Her black hair cascaded down in loose tendrils, falling sensuously on her shoulders and chest. Its hue contrasted her milky tan skin so dramatically that to Gavin it was purely stunning.

He had asked her to dinner right then and there. She had said no. In fact, Victoria had said no to Gavin more times than he could count, but he had to have her. He kept showing up at the coffee shop, kept asking, and eventually she said yes. This made Victoria his most prized possession. Not that she was a possession, but in terms of all the things Gavin had wanted, worked hard for, and received, this woman was by far the most important.

So it gave him great joy to watch as Victoria fell in love with this house. As she strolled through the 15,000 square foot mansion, Gavin followed her and smiled to himself. It greatly pleased him that the realtor closed escrow just in time for the wedding. The realtor had been stalling for mysterious reasons, and when Gavin finally pressed using a sharp tone in his voice, the realtor mentioned some kind of problem with the house regarding a mishap with the prior occupants. “There may be hazards,” were his exact words, but Gavin had found it completely ridiculous and threw his attorney contacts into the situation. The realtor had drawn the papers up within an hour. That’s how Gavin got things done, and he was glad that’s how he did.

From the center of the master bedroom, Victoria turned around and around, arms stretched out like a joyful little girl. Gavin laughed sharing in her joy. She ran to the bed and hopped on it. The smile on her face ran from ear to ear. She ran to her vanity desk, and opened the drawers. All of her favorite brands of makeup were already stocked inside. She looked at herself in the mirror smiling for joy, and then she looked at Gavin’s reflection.

“It’s a dream. It has to be. I love it,” said Victoria, and she popped open a small container of Chanel blush. She plucked a brush out from a side drawer and began to paint her cheeks. Her most treasured shade: apricot.

Gavin embraced her from behind and kissed her neck. He then lifted her in his arms and carried her to the bed. “Wait!” she chuckled out, “Let me put my make-up back!”

As he laid her down, he whispered, “You’re the love of my life, I’d do anything for you.”

That night they made love more passionately than either thought possible. But in the weeks to come, Victoria became consumed by her boredom. Ever since Gavin had proposed, he’d insisted she not toil away at the coffee shop. She was the significant other to a high powered attorney. He stated that there was no reason to degrade herself by serving coffee.

Most nights Gavin would get home around 10:00 pm with little energy to do much besides watch the evening news and turn in, but Victoria seemed so dissatisfied by that. She complained to Gavin that he didn’t have time for her, and when he wouldn’t listen she went on about how the house was playing tricks on her. When she placed an item down, she’d say, it was gone by the time she returned to it. She wanted his company and she wanted to go out.

“There’s new restaurant that opened downtown,” she often said implying that she’d like to go, but Gavin brushed it off apologizing that he had an important deposition in the morning.

“I loved my life before you, Gavin,” she revealed to him one night before bed. “Don’t give me a reason to go back to it.” Gavin lowered his reading glasses to question her, but Victoria had already turned off the light.

The next morning Gavin woke up and found Victoria’s side of the bed was cold. He rose and went downstairs for coffee. Unlike every morning since they’d moved in, there was no coffee in the pot, and Victoria was not in the kitchen. A sharp pang of guilt hit Gavin. He should’ve listened to her and taken her out. Why can’t she understand their livelihood depends on his long hours? Assuming his wife was off sulking in the living room, he went there, but it was empty. He walked briskly to the exercise room, but she wasn’t there. He checked the library, billiard room, study, and finally the laundry room and secondary bathrooms, but his wife was nowhere to be found.

Gavin contemplated taking the day off from work when he realized his favorite mug was not on the third shelf of the cupboard like it should have been. He opened the adjacent cupboard door, but his mug wasn’t there either. Gavin quickly threw open all the cupboards in the kitchen, and then the dishwasher before he finally accepted that his mug was not in this kitchen. He was dumbstruck.

Hours later the police were swarming about his apartment. Gavin sat on the couch and thanked the lead detective. “We really shouldn’t consider this a missing person case until 72 hours,” said Crosby, who was the lead detective.

“I’m aware, I really appreciate it,” said Gavin not fully meaning it. His law firm had represented a number of crooked cops in Det. Crosby’s department and Gavin felt they owed him, and owed him big.

“When did you last see Victoria?” he asked.

“Last night,” answered Gavin. “You don’t understand. It’s not like Victoria to go anywhere without my knowledge. She left her purse with all her cards and her I.D., and even keys. I’m worried.”

“Can you think of any place she might’ve gone?” Gavin wracked his brain, and then he began to shake his head when something caught his eye. It would’ve been overlooked by anyone else, but to Gavin it was alarming. On the marble floor not ten feet from the couch where he sat was a small pile of powder.

“What?” asked Det. Crosby, but Gavin didn’t answer. He rose out of his seat and knelt down. He placed his index finger into the powder. “What is it?” Det. Crosby asked again.

“It’s rouge,” said Gavin.

“Rouge?” The detective rose an eyebrow.

“My wife’s makeup. Her blush. What she wore on her cheeks,” answered Gavin as he rubbed the apricot powder between his fingers. Some of the officers exchanged glances and snickered, which Gavin noticed. “You think this is funny?! My wife is missing!”

Det. Crosby closed his eyes for one imperceptible second, “Not at all, Gavin.” He cleared his throat. “Sorry.” It seemed comforting to Gavin until the detective rose, preparing to leave the mansion.

“Please give me a call if anything else seems promising with respect to finding your wife.” And with that, Det. Crosby rounded up the officers on his detail and followed the entire task force out of the mansion.

Gavin sat by himself on the couch. The house fell silent. Then, he saw it – another pile of powder.

Once again, he knelt by the pile. Then saw another pile a few feet ahead. He knelt and touched his fingertips to it. It was Victoria’s rouge as well. He looked up searching the floor for more. He found one a few feet away. A trail, he thought. He knelt near the next pile, searched around, and then he knelt near the pile he found after that. This went on through the living room, and into the servant’s quarters, where Gavin had never stepped. These old colonial houses had all kinds of secret staircases, corridors, and chambers. The very thought of it had always given Gavin a creepy feeling, which is why he never came here.

Gavin followed the powder trail up a hidden staircase he had never noticed before. As he ascended the staircase, paranoia came over him. When he reached the fifth floor, another powder trail led him through a corridor that connected a children’s play den to the servant’s quarters. Gavin proceeded, his heart racing. He had been in love with Victoria long enough to know when she was near. He began to greatly fear where the powder trail may be leading him.

With his eyes glued to the floor, Gavin spotted pile after pile of powder until he found himself face to face with a wall. Gavin’s hopes plummeted. The wall ran the entire length of the corridor. Gavin looked ceiling to floor and could not understand how something so promising as a trail of Victoria’s powder could lead him to a random wall. He despaired and slammed his head against the wall as all hope escaped him.

Gavin felt a slight sinking movement from the wall. Just then, a secret door to the right of where he stood slowly creaked open. He looked up surprised. He waited a long moment until the door finally stopped opening and peered inside. What he saw was a confined space, perhaps 8 by 8 space, generously speaking. All four walls of the room contained shelves that ranged from 6 inches to one foot, by Gavin’s estimation, and every inch of shelf space was occupied by porcelain dolls.

Gavin’s heart began to race as he stepped inside the room, his head filling with thoughts. Why was it filled with dolls? Whose dolls were these? And why did the realtor not know about it, and clear them out? Most importantly, why did my missing wife’s rouge lead me here?

Gavin’s gaze landed on one doll in particular. The doll had black hair and tan skin. Unlike the majority of dolls in the room, this one was not dressed in a turn of the century gown and bonnet, but rather a contemporary red sweater, and blue jean skirt. Gavin picked the contemporary doll up in his hands and stared into its eyes. When the doll was upright, its eyes were open. And when he tipped it on its back, the eyes fell shut. Gavin played with this for a moment, tipping then elevating the doll. Suddenly, it’s right eye fell into its skull cavity and jingled around.

“Christ,” Gavin said to himself. “That’s damn creepy.” Then, for reasons even Gavin didn’t understand, he lifted the doll to his nose and inhaled. He closed his eyes. It smelled just like Victoria. He lowered and once again looked at the doll. It was on its back and it’s eyelids were closed. It looked peaceful, and Gavin wondered if he would ever have a child. If he finds Victoria, would she want to have a baby? As he deeply considered this and stared into the closed eyes of this porcelain doll, the dolls eyes opened. To Gavin, it seemed the doll was looking at him dead in the eye.

An hour later Det. Crosby stood in the center of the doll room as Gavin waited in the hall. “I don’t care what it costs, her powder trail led me here, test everything for prints and D.N.A.”

“Yes, of course,” said Det. Crosby as he instructed his team to follow suit. Each officer exited the room with a handful of dolls. Each doll was bagged in plastic. By the time the last officer left, Gavin keeled over drawing his hand to his eyes to hide the tears.

“We’ll find her,” assured Det. Crosby.

“Call me as soon as you find something.”

After Gavin heard the last of the officers’ footsteps descend the servants staircase, he stepped back into the room and turned around again and again, studying the empty walls. Impatience overcame him and he extracted his cell phone from his pants pocket.

Meanwhile, on the street outside, the officers loaded up their evidence van. One by one, each officer carried a handful of porcelain dolls into the van and dumped them in a pile. When the last officer was allowed sole access inside, he placed the four dolls he had carried onto the pile. But just as he was about to back up and hop out of the van, he noticed something peculiar. The eyes of all of the dolls floated open. He leaned forward to lift one of the dolls up and see what kind of mechanical dysfunction it had, when suddenly a porcelain doll plunged down onto his back. Alarmed, the officer grabbed the doll off his back, but it was too late. The army of dolls jumped onto him one after the other, and began to envelop the officer. Soon they smothered him, covering his nose and mouth, and eventually collapsed gasping for air.

Inside the mansion, with his cell phone pressed to his ear, Gavin listened to ring tone after ring tone, as he walked down the hallway.

Tap tap tap.

Gavin swung around and looked into the room, but the outgoing message in his ear distracted him. The realtor wasn’t picking up, so Gavin left a message:

“Hi, Gavin here, I know it’s late. I love the house, just wanted to call about… well, you had mentioned the house could be hazardous, and I didn’t understand what you meant, but it’s imperative that you call me back. So… please do.” He hung up.

Tap tap tap tap.

Gavin pivoted again. The sound had come from behind him in the secret room. Hearing a noise like that caused the possibility of rats to cross his mind. That’s the last thing he needed. Suddenly, he was struck by a paranoid feeling that reminded him of how he felt climbing the staircase earlier. He never felt paranoid. Was this his instincts taking over? He turned around inside the secret room. The north wall was empty just as it was when the cops had left. The west, south, and east walls were all empty, too. But when Gavin turned slightly to the north wall with intensions to leave the room, he saw the black hair contemporary doll sitting on a shelf.

His eyes widened and his heart began racing. That doll wasn’t there a second ago, was it? Gavin looked closely at the doll and saw that on its cheeks was a thick powder. Apricot blush. Gavin grew irate. He didn’t know what was going on, but it wasn’t funny. He wanted his wife back. A sharp anger came over him, and he raised the porcelain doll above his head ready to slam its face into the lacquered wood floor when his cell phone rang.

Gavin lowered the doll and reached into his pocket. He fumbled slightly, but accepted the call. “Hello?”

“Sorry to return your call so late, but this is important,” it was his realtor. His voice sounded grave and shaky.

“Not at all. Besides, I called first,” said Gavin, who was fully alert to receive any information the realtor may have. “So?” He heard a long exhale on the other end of the phone.

“Look, I don’t know how to say this, because it’s, well…I never thought it would affect you or your wife.”

“Just say it,” Gavin pleaded.

“The previous owners of the house…Well,” the realtor paused for a few seconds, “they… disappeared. Not at the same time. First the wife went missing. Then, after, I think a day or two, the husband disappeared. Neither of them was found. To this day, they remain missing.” Gavin stood in silence. “Gavin? Are you still there?”

After a long moment, Gavin screamed, “Why didn’t you tell me this?!”

“I was trying to tell you beforehand, but-!” Gavin threw his cell phone against the wall. It shattered on impact.

He screamed and cried, pulling his hair out. “Victoria!” In a rage he had never before known, Gavin grabbed the porcelain doll by the head and smashed it against the wall. It fell to the ground, and he stomped on it in a fury. Then he stormed out of the room and down the hall.

On the floor of the secret room, the shards of the porcelain doll reassembled themselves into the milky tan head of the contemporary doll. When all of the pieces found their proper fit, the doll’s eyes opened and blinked rapidly. The doll sat up.

Once in his bedroom, Gavin sat on his bed and a deep despair crept into his heart. What if he really never did see Victoria again? After brushing his teeth and changing into his night clothes, Gavin turned out the light and lied down in bed.

Tap tap tap.

Gavin hadn’t reached sleep when that odd sound of feet tapping across the floor occurred again. He paused, holding his breath. Then soon enough:

Tap tap tap tap.

Gavin opened his eyes and waited patiently as they adjusted to the dark.

Tap tap tap tap tap.

He couldn’t see anything except the far wall and the curtains on the adjoining wall. Annoyed, he threw the covers back and was about to get out of bed when a porcelain doll landed on his chest.

“What the hell?” He grabbed the doll and threw it off of him across the room. When he sat up, three dolls jumped onto his back and head. He sprung out of bed, spinning and throwing the dolls off one by one and screaming. He ran to the other of the bedroom where the light switch was located, but before reaching it a dozen dolls jumped on him, taking a hold of his limbs. It knocked him off balance and he stumbled forward. Dolls lined the floor, causing him to trip. He fell head first into the bed frame. His forehead cracked against the hard mahogany corner of the footboard.

From the ground Gavin shook his head, but the blow had severely disoriented him. He rolled over onto his back and took a deep breath. When he opened his eyes and cocked his head to the side, he saw in his periphery dozens of dolls with an evil glint in their eye. They crept towards Gavin, and just as he was about to sit up, the masses of them leapt onto him. He screamed, and tossed them off, one by one, but there were far too many.

The porcelain dolls smothered Gavin to death.

By the time moonlight shined, the dolls dragged his dead body across the bedroom floor and down the hall. They dragged him through a secret corridor and into the servant’s kitchen, where they had been keeping the dead and rotting corpse of Victoria. The dolls propped Gavin up on a kitchen stool. Then posed Victoria with a teacup. They staged a scene where Victoria appeared to be serving Gavin morning tea to his favorite cup.

Throughout the night, the dolls took turns playing with their life sized toys.

*Author’s Note*

This story is part of my book called “A Telling Mind: Dark Thoughts.” You can read the whole book for free and more by following the link provided!

Credit To – Ismael Zuniga

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September 14, 2015 at 12:00 PM
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The phone rang. Phoebe looked at Heather confused, “Um, are you going to answer that?”

“Nah, don’t bother.” responded Heather, “It’s just going to be that annoying creep again.”

“Huh?” asked Phoebe, even more confused, “What creep?”

“Wait, I never told you about this guy?” She noticed the blank look on her friend’s face, which basically answered her question, “It’s just this guy who somehow got my number and has been leaving messages of him breathing heavily.”

“Oh my god!” exclaimed Phoebe, clearly startled, “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine. No need to worry about it, I’m sure he’ll stop calling eventually.”

Phoebe was about to continue the conversation, when the phone suddenly started ringing again. Heather’s only response was to sigh, but Phoebe grumpily began walking towards the phone.

“What are you doing?” yelled Heather, nervously.

“I’m going to stop this creep from calling you.”

“Don’t-“ started Heather, but Phoebe had already picked up the phone.

“What do you want?” she yelled into the phone.

“Who’s this?” a raspy voice responded from over the phone.

“I’m Heather’s friend and I want you to stop calling her!”

“Oh, you’re her friend,” said the voice, “then I’ll certainly stop calling then.” After that sentence was spoken, there was manic laughter over the phone. “Tell you what. If you open the front door, I’ll never call again.”

“Fine.” Phoebe stated as she slammed the phone down and she started walking toward the door.

Heather realized what Phoebe was doing and began to protest, “No please, don’t open the door!”

Phoebe rolled her eyes, “Chill, it’s not like he’s going to be there.” She opened the door and revealed the completely empty porch. “See. I told you that there would be no one here.” She closed the door and locked it. “Now that pervert won’t call-“

Before she could finish, a man leaped out from inside the closet beside the door and plunged a knife deep into her chest. Blood started flowing from where she had been stabbed; Heather started screaming and began running upstairs while she heard the sound of footsteps coming quickly behind her. Then everything went black.

Anne threw the remote over to the couch after pressing the power button and tried to ignore the glare that her best friend was giving her.

“Dude, why did you turn off the movie?” asked Chloe, “We were just getting to the best part.”

“Because these movies are so stupid.” Anne said as she rolled her eyes, “I mean, seriously, would you go and actually open the door?”

“Well, no.” Chloe admitted, “But if they didn’t do that, then this awesome movie would exist.”

“You and I have very different ideas of what’s awesome.” She started to get up to go to the kitchen when she realized that Chloe was still sitting on the couch, pouting. “Tell you what,” she sighed, “How about we get some snacks and then we can continue watching the rest of your silly movie.”

Chloe visibly perked up, “Alright, let’s see what we can get find.” She stood up and they both walked into the kitchen.

Anne decided to have what she insists as the ‘real movie experience’, grabbing a bag of popcorn and threw it in the microwave. As she waited for it to finish and for Chloe to finish scrounging around for something to eat, she decided to continue the conversation that they were having before.

“I honestly have no clue why you like these kinds of movie,” she said as she pointed at the cover of the movie that they were watching, “they’re either about some psycho stabbing teenagers or some demented doll forcing people to cut off their limbs.”

“Well, sure, some of these movies are total garbage, but that’s just like any genre.” Chloe responded, “If you dig enough, you’ll find those masterpieces that will scare the crap out of you.” Almost as if to prove her point, she grabbed a bag of pretzels that she had found in the back of the cupboards.

Anne shrugged, “I guess they just aren’t my cup of tea.” The microwave decided to pick that moment to beep, which made the both of them jump. Anne grabbed the bag out of the microwave and poured its contents into a bowl, contented with the smell of buttery popcorn, she began to head out of the kitchen along with Chloe.

Chloe continued to walk a few steps, but quickly realized that Anne was no longer beside her. She turned around to find Anne standing in the doorway of the now-darkened kitchen.

“Hey Anne, everything okay?” asked Chloe, worried about her friend.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” She replied, “I just thought that I heard something.”

Chloe started laughing, “Wait a minute, Anne Douglass, are you trying to scare me?”

“No, I’m not.” She said gravelly, “I swear I heard something.”

“Must have been the wind,” Chloe shrugged, “or maybe that movie did actually scare you.”

“That movie scare me?” Anne said defiantly, trying to pretend that she didn’t see the smirk on her friend’s face, “No way something like that would ever scare me.”

“Well, let’s get back to the movie that totally isn’t scaring you.” She replied with a joking tone in her voice.

Chloe had started to turn back around toward the living room when she saw what looked like a black glove wrap around Anne’s ankle. Before she could yell to warn her, Anne was yanked backwards into the kitchen, making the bowl fly out of her hand and spill the popcorn everywhere.

Anne started screaming and tried to get a hold on something, but all that she ended up doing was leaving nail marks on the wooden floor. Chloe ran up the stairs and into her bedroom, locking the door behind her. She sat on her bed, terrified and unsure of what to do next.

Her cell was still downstairs and there was no phone upstairs, so she had no way to call the police. She was trying to keep her thoughts focused on surviving instead of panicking, when she heard the sound of footsteps slowly going up the stairs. She started to panic and grabbed the baseball bat that she kept under her bed for protection.

“Stay back!” she yelled, “I-I have a gun!”

She was hoping that this thing would take her bluff, when she heard a knock on the door. She tightened her grip on the bat, when she heard a familiar voice.

“Chloe? Are you okay?”

“Anne, is that you?” asked Chloe, unsure of what was going on.

“Yes, it’s me.” Anne responded, “I’m sorry, I was trying to scare you, I guess I went too far.”

“Y’think!” Chloe yelled angrily, she started to head toward the door when she thought of something, “Wait, what about the glove?”

“Huh? What glove?” asked Anne, sounding extremely confused.

“The glove that pulled you into the kitchen.” Chloe told her, moving the bat up against her shoulder again.

There was a brief pause before Anne responded, “There wasn’t any glove pulling me back. I was just pretending that I was being pulled, you must have imagined it.”

Chloe tried to think if she could have imagined the glove, but she couldn’t ignore the fact that her friend’s voice was coming from behind the door, sounding fine, if not a bit out of breath.

She dropped the bat and walked toward the door, pulling the chain through the lock. She opened the door and was shocked to see not Anne, but a tall man with a white shirt stained with red smudges.

Chloe was taken aback and tried to close the door, but he forced it open, pushing her down on the ground in the same motion. He moved one hand to the right pocket of his pants pulling out a knife that was still dripping with blood. In his other hand, he had a white box that he moved up to his lips and when he spoke into it, out came the voice of Anne.


Credit To – David M.

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