Ikidomari (Part 2 of 2)

July 13, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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This is part two of two in the Ikidomari series. Please read the first part here!

Ikidomari 1

The doll stood motionless in front of the door, waiting to be invited inside, as the light from Jake’s flashlight shined upon its dusty wooden face. “It’s that damn creepy doll!” He yelled, quickly walking back to the table. I really didn’t understand how the doll was standing without anybody to hold it up. Most or all ventriloquist dolls required someone to hold it up but this doll stood on its feet with no problem. Maybe someone was holding it up, someone or something we couldn’t see. I believe the doll was alive somehow, either that or someone or something was moving it from place to place without any of us noticing.

Joel was up next so he spun the wheel. His game piece moved five spaces to another gray space. Kenzie spun the wheel and her game piece also moved to a gray space. It was then my turn so I spun the wheel. We just wanted to get the game over with so we were getting through quickly. We barely even talked to each other. I spun an 8 and my game piece moved slowly until it stopped…on a red space. I looked around at everyone, they all looked frightened, except for Joel who I guess still had the mentality that it was all just a game. I pulled a red card from the deck and took a deep breath before reading it.

Don’t be scared, we have just begun
The doors are now locked and there’s nowhere to run

Creepy riddles. I don’t know why but the fact that they rhymed was very unsettling to me. We all looked at each other, stuck in fear for what seemed like an eternity. We heard footsteps echoing through the halls, it sounded as if someone were running relentlessly around the building.

“What the hell is going on?” Jake asked, looking at me. Everybody looked at me as if I knew the answer. I had no idea what was going on, the only thing I knew was that we were in deep trouble. Jake suddenly got up and scampered outside the room and down the hall. We all followed him out, I tried to convince him that we couldn’t leave until the game was finished. It was frightening to find out that even if we wanted to leave, there was no way we could. The doors were locked and the windows were boarded. We were stuck there with no way out. The only way was to finish the game. While Jake and Joel furiously wandered the building in search for a way out, I was right behind them, trying to get them to understand that we had to finish the game or we would never get out. Things were starting to get out of control, Jake and Joel were arguing and it got to the point where I had to yell for them to shut the hell up.

“We have to finish the damn game,” I explained.

“That damn game is cursed and there is no way I’m playing it,” Jake said.

They were finally understanding how serious and real the game was. The melody started echoing through the halls, it was calling for us. It took me a while to get everybody to understand that if we do not finish the game, we’d die either way. It was a frightening situation we were in but finishing the game was the only way out. We all walked back to the room and back to the game. I noticed the doll sitting back in the rocking chair, I don’t think anyone else noticed.

We took our seats, didn’t say anything at all as we finally continued the game. One thing about this game is that it can literally drive you to go insane. That was happening to all of us. Since I drew the red card that locked the doors, It was Jake’s turn. He spun the wheel and landed on a gray spot. Joel was next and he spun the wheel. His game piece moved up five spaces, landing on black. He drew a black card from the deck and read it.

“Don’t be afraid…but there’s someone on the furnace.”

The only thing I liked about the black cards was that they didn’t rhyme. We flashed our flashlights at the furnace that sat on the other side of the room and what we saw will give you nightmares even if you aren’t asleep. Her face was insidious and she was just sitting there on the furnace, tapping it with her fingers. Her eyes were dark, you couldn’t see anything inside them but evil. Her skin was pale and rotten, you could actually smell her. There was blood lightly dripping from her mouth and It seemed as if her jaw was broken because it hung unnaturally low as her neck tilted to an angle that no neck should ever be, unless it was broken. She had a rope hanging from her neck and she wore a white gown. I swear, she was looking at me. I couldn’t really tell because her eyes were dark but I know she was looking at me. She still does. Every time I close my eyes…I see her. Her dreadful face and vile smell will probably haunt me for the rest of my life.

We continued the game, trying to ignore the smell, the tapping on the furnace and the fact that something sinister was just behind us. Kenzie was next and she spun the wheel, ending up on a gray space. I was next and also ended up on gray. Jake spun the wheel and we watched restlessly as it stopped on red. We were so worried about what would happen next that we didn’t notice the tapping and smell was no longer lingering and that whatever that thing was, was no longer there. Jake took a red card from the deck, I could tell how scared he was by the emptiness in his eyes and how slow he was moving. We were all scared about what would happen next.

She sits in the dark and she feeds on fear
Don’t be afraid or she’ll appear

Everything was silent, you could’ve heard the sound of our hearts beating against our chests if you were there. They were beating and begging for the fear to go away and no matter how many times I counted to three, the fear was like a never ending curse upon us. Our flashlights started flickering until they went out completely. The room was black and I was convinced that we were already dead and in hell. We heard the sound of heavy breathing and it most definitely wasn’t any of us. It was something more demonic and haunting. We heard the tapping against the furnace and the music started playing from the game, the creepy melody that echoed through the room. We felt a pulse and that pulse was coming from the heart that sat ghastly at the center of the board game. After a minute, everything became silent again but it was still completely dark. We sat in silence for about fifteen seconds before the hopeless screaming of Jake echoed throughout the room and out into the hall. The door slammed shut and we were stuck helpless in the room listening to the screaming of Jake as it faded out into the halls. Something dragged him away.

Joel pounded on the door as he yelled for his brother but there was nothing else we could do but continue the game. I tried to convince both Joel and Kenzie that Jake was probably fine even though I knew very well that he wasn’t. I just wanted to finish the game. We sat back down, saddened by the empty seat at the table. I didn’t know if anyone else was seeing what I was seeing because they said nothing about it but I saw that thing again, that woman, sitting on the furnace, tapping away. I ignored her and we continued the game, still traumatized by what had just happened. To make matters even worse, Jake’s game piece, his tombstone, moved suddenly to the bottom right of the board where other tombstones resided. He was officially out of the game.

Joel was next. He spun the wheel and barely missed the red by one space. Kenzie spun and her tombstone stopped on gray. I then spun the wheel and my tombstone moved six spaces to black. Black cards no longer scared me, compared to the haunting red ones, they were harmless. I took a card from the deck and read it, my voice, becoming frail.

“She’s watching you.”

I flashed my flashlight around the room, not really sure what I was gonna see. I saw the doll, sitting against the wall of the bedroom door. She was looking right at me. Her evil stare pierced into my mind as a memory. I ignored her, turned back to the game and we continued. Joel was next, he spun the wheel and landed on 6. We watched as his tombstone stopped at a red space. He took his time before drawing a red card from the deck.

They’re calling from the graveyard gates You’ve disturbed the dead
Lock the doors and stay away
They’re something you will dread

We looked around at each other, confused and worried. We heard the footsteps and the moaning, echoing from the halls. The smell of their rotten skin could be smelled from miles away. They were coming toward us, their footsteps and moaning getting louder as they got closer. The door was opening when Joel and I slammed it shut, just before they were coming in. We moved the refrigerator over to the door to keep them from breaking through and it worked out well. They were moaning, growling and hungry for flesh. There had to be at least ten of them. I wasn’t exactly sure what they were but they were clearly something possessed and, something dead. After a while, the moaning and pounding at the door had stopped and I guess whatever those things were, they were just entering the graveyard and laying back into their dreadful graves.

Kenzie spun the wheel after everything calmed down and we were finally able to breathe. Her game piece moved to a gray space. I spun the wheel afterwards, meeting a gray space as well. Joel was next and he spun the wheel, just missing red by one space. Kenzie spun the wheel, and her tombstone moved 8 spaces and stopped just in front of Joel’s. She landed on red. We looked at each other, the dead silence adding to the suspense as she took a red card from the deck. She read it slowly, her hands were noticeably shaking as she held the card in her hand.

She waits behind the bedroom door
Under the sheets, she walks the floor

“What the hell is that supposed mean?” Joel asked as if anyone actually knew the answer. The bedroom door creaked open, shining my flashlight, I saw a hand reach out of the door and it made a gesture that was basically saying “come here.” What happened next, I really didn’t understand. It was as if Kenzie was possessed or something because she got out of her chair and slowly walked over toward the door. I saw the emptiness in her eyes, it was like she had no soul. She was like a walking corpse.

“What the hell are you doing Kenzie?” Joel asked, worriedly. “Get the hell back here Mackenzi!” He stood from his chair and tried to stop her but it was too late. She was pulled inside and the door slammed shut. It was silent, other than the sound of Joel pounding on the door. We couldn’t hear a sound coming from the room. We managed to get the door open a few minutes later. We were hearing a creaking sound and that sound was coming from a rope that was wrapped around Kenzie’s neck and hung from the ceiling. She rocked slowly back and fourth and her jaw hung low in an unnatural position as if it was broken.

Joel pulled her down and tried to revive her but there was nothing, not even a trained doctor could do. She was dead. He was oblivious to the breathing sound that echoed through the room. There was something in there with us. Something sinister. The room wasn’t completely dark, we were able to see without our flashlights due to the moon that shined vividly outside the window that wasn’t boarded. We couldn’t see anyone but we heard it breathing. The smell was unbearable and it wasn’t coming from Kenzie’s corpse. It was coming from the thing that suddenly walked out of the closet and sat at the side of the bed. Joel and I just stood there in fear as she turned her head toward us, our minds, traumatized by her deadly dark eyes. She was tapping against the nightstand next to the bed and she had some dusty sheets that were once white wrapped around her shoulders. I realised it was that same woman or…thing that sat on the furnace. She just stared at us, the room was silent in the most horrifying way. The only thing we could hear was her heavy breathing.

“Shhhh,” she whispered, her finger pressed to her lips. “I love this song.” The music from the game was playing. She got out the bed and she danced around the room, the terrible smell followed behind her. Her voice was probably the most creepy part of it all. It was her creepy tone and the way it echoed.

I turned over to Joel, trying to understand why we hadn’t left the room yet. “Let’s get the hell out of here, Joel,” I said. He stood up off the floor and looked at me.

“My brother’s out there somewhere,” he said, wiping the tears from his eyes. “I have to find him.” He seemed unfazed by the creepy dancing woman in the room. He scampered out of the room and I helped him move the refrigerator from the door before we walked out into the hall.

“Jake!” His screaming echoed through the halls, probably waking anything that lived within. We searched through some of the rooms for about twenty minutes before that creepy melody from the game started playing again. I knew it was just a matter of time. He thought it was a good idea that we split up and that’s what we did. He searched the fourth floor while I searched the third.

I was searching through a room when my flashlight started flickering before it turned off. I heard footsteps, at first believing they were mine until I stood still and the footsteps continued. It was dark, the windows were boarded, blocking out any light from outside. Somebody else was in there with me and I know it wasn’t Joel because I heard his calls for his brother echoing through the hall. The door slammed shut and I felt a cool breeze run through me.

“Jake?” I whispered. “You in here?” Everything was silent, the only thing I heard was Joel yelling. I then heard a voice but it wasn’t very clear.

“He’s dead.”

It was a deep, dark and sinister tone. I couldn’t see anything or anybody but I felt them. I felt their presence. I was lightly tapping my flashlight, trying to get it to work. I closed my eyes and I started counting to three. I was lightly shaking and every part of me, it seemed had a pulse. 1…2(deep breath)…3.

The flashlight finally turned on and it flashed directly at some old dusty mirror…I saw her standing behind me. I felt her cold breath as it dissolved into my skin. I ran out of the room, literally as fast as I could. I was surprised my heart didn’t jump out of my chest because it sure did feel like it would. I walked back down to the first floor to the game.

When I stepped in the room, I noticed someone standing over by the windows. It was Joel. He was just standing there, in a fixed position, completely immobile. “Joel?” I walked toward him slowly. “You okay, man?” He turned around slowly, his face was so pale and he had bags under his eyes as if he hadn’t slept in days. I wondered if I looked like that.

“Did you find anything?” He asked, finally dropping back to earth.

I thought about the devilish woman I saw. “No…sorry.”

He sat back down at the table. I had a feeling that he didn’t care what happened next. Like he didn’t care to die. He didn’t seem scared or worried he was just…I don’t know. Two seats were now empty as we continued the game. Kenzie’s tombstone, I noticed was moved to the bottom right of the board, right next to Jake’s. I spun the wheel and landed on 2. That kept me on gray. Joel spun the wheel and was forced to draw a black card. He took a card from the deck and read it.

“She’s watching you.”

He wiped the tears from his eyes with his shirt and looked over at the bedroom door where Kenzie’s body still lay. “It’s her,” he said, crying. “It’s Mackenzie.” I turned around but I didn’t see her. Either he was losing his mind or she was actually there. I wouldn’t be suprised if she was. I spun the wheel and landed on the same space as Joel. That meant I had to draw a black card. I took a card from the deck and I read it.
“There’s somebody at the door.”

A loud knock echoed through the room as Joel and I froze in fear. Joel and I stayed put as the knocking continued until the door suddenly creaked open. We heard the footsteps but we didn’t see anybody. Joel spun the wheel, desperate to end the game. He was safe from the black and red cards as his tombstone stopped on gray. I spun the wheel, also safe from the cards. As Joel spun the wheel next, I saw Jake. He was sitting on the furnace, tapping away. His jaw hung low as if it was broken and his eyes were dark but I knew that he was looking at me. Joel had his back turned so he couldn’t see him and I guess he couldn’t hear the tapping. He was completely oblivious to Jake’s presence. I pretended like I didn’t see anything and eventually the tapping had stopped and he disappeared. Joel and I continued to land on gray until eventually, Joel was forced to draw a red card.

“This is it, isn’t it?” He said to me, his voice becoming weak. I didn’t say anything, I wasn’t really sure what to say. He took a deep breath and read the card.

Under the floor, you must peek
There’s something there beneath your feet

I remembered the hole in the floor where I first found the board game. I showed Joel to the door and he lifted it up. We flashed our flashlights inside to see what was under. What we saw can unfortunately never be unseen. Joel immediately looked away in distraught when he saw what was down there. It was Jake. His corpse was already being infested with flies and maggots as it lay down there, against the wall. There was no blood but it was clear that his neck was snapped and his jaw was broken because they were each in unnatural positions. Joel just stood there, his back turned from the ditch. He wasn’t crying or showing any kind of emotion. He just looked empty and exhausted. I sensed that something was going to happen and…it did. Something down there grabbed Joel by his ankle and tried to pull him down. I tried to help him but there was nothing I could do. The game wanted him and they got him. They pulled him under and the door slammed shut. I was all alone.

The melody started playing from the game and I walked over to it, not knowing what to do next. My game piece started moving to the center of the board and it stopped directly at the heart. The heart started beating, it had a pulse. The music got louder and louder, it was piercing through my head until suddenly, it stopped. My game piece moved all the way back to the beginning, where I first started. That was it. The game was over.

I left the building without ever looking back. I didn’t want to go back to my dormroom where I would be alone so I walked to the grocery store that was just a couple minutes away and I cried to everyone there that my friends were all dead. I know they all thought I was crazy but they called the police and the bodies of my friends were found later that night. I told them the story, I told them everything that happened but they never believed me. The game was never found but I know it was somewhere in that building, somewhere either within the walls or under the floors. Haunted by the demons within. I can hear the melody playing right now as I sit alone in my room, surrounded by white walls and cameras. They’re watching me. I can hear them, I can feel them, and I can see them. That game is somewhere in this world and I pity the poor soul who finds it. I learned to live with the haunting melody that echoes wherever I go. I sometimes put on my dancing slippers and I dance to the melody. I dance around and around and around. I dance to the sound of fear…because it’s the only sound I hear.

Credit To – Jake Engel

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Lost Tombs and Those Lost Within Them

May 24, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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I could barely keep from collapsing as I ran through what seemed to be the never-ending darkness of the godforsaken catacombs. When I’d first signed on to serve as Professor Nickel’s field assistant, I’d assumed that the shrunken old man and I would spend days standing over a blanket of dirt, sifting through broken vases and old bones in search of some lost relic that the old fart would be hunting for.

He was always ranting about the “lost civilizations” and “how they need to be better explored by those with vision!”

All I’d cared about was walking away with a passing grade.

Now all I cared about was living to tell the tale!

We’d gotten separated some time ago, the old loon hopping down from a leaning column to the top of what he claimed to be a Sumerian tomb, telling me to keep up. How the old man moved like he did, I had no idea, but the jump was easily a twenty-foot drop.

Yeah, not doing that. I’d thought with disdain, having thought of the horrors my knees would face from such a height had I made a similar jump.

Now I was running for my life from some ancient Sumerian creatures that had crawled from the cracked awning of some ionic pillars, great shark-like maws wide in anticipation for what I could only assume to be dinner.

Namely me.

It didn’t matter as the creatures chasing me through the utter darkness were outright terrifying. From what I’d seen, the creatures were essentially unwrapped mummies that had replaced their funerary wrappings in place of moving along the walls like spiders. Hissing in their ancient language innumerable insults at me as they chased me around the catacombs, howling with laughter like sadistic chimps as they swung from high above, their aged claws scraping away bits of ancient plaster as they hurried after me.

Running with the two satchels of archaeologist’s tools, I quickly roll under a fallen column and soldier-crawl my way beneath a toppled statue, doing my best not to hack and cough at the dust I was kicking up.

I almost hack when I feel one of them land on top of the toppled statue, the other landing on all fours some distance away, prowling just within the light of my dropped flashlight, giving me a decent look at them.

They were obviously once human, but centuries of decay had changed that, turning them into something far worse. What funerary bindings they still possessed seemed only to exist to hold the carrion beetles that crawled all about their yellowed bones held together by the lightest of pink tendrils, thin strands of decayed sinew perhaps. Their mouths were no longer even comparable to what I possessed, being cracked down the middle and held aloft by the same pink tendrils, giving them a wide, toothy maw that nevertheless looked as if it could break stone. Their arms were covered in faded tattoos, highly intricate looking dark ink work that had probably meant something at one time. Now all I could do was stare at the bare-boned hands, the sharpened finger bones…

The one on top gave a great leap, causing more dust to rain down on me, landing next to its compatriot. This one held an old sword awkwardly with its left hand, handling the cracked leather-hilt as if it were poison.

Whatever this Ghoul had been in life, it was obviously not a soldier. It held the sword awkwardly, offering it to the other with a shrug, the two speaking in their gibberish language.

Oh, good lord, they’re thinking…

I fish into my satchel, as quietly as possible, for something that I could actually use as a weapon for when I eventually bump into one of them and can’t run. One satchel is nothing but books and brushes, so I look into the other, finding my great savior!

A steel trowel.

Six inches of sharpened steel connected to a wooden handle. That was all I had to separate me from death.

I shuffle about beneath the collapsed statue, like a sleepy turtle trying to find a comfortable spot, crawling the way I came in, squatting behind several tons of rubble in hopes of keeping the creatures far enough away from me actually to make a break for it. I slink around the corner as best I can, trying to figure out where the hell I actually am in the damned ruins. Pulling a compass and a smaller flashlight, I frown as I notice North is in the exact opposite direction I wanted it to be.

The map of the supposed “Tomb of the Ubaid Princes” that Professor Nickel had traded his watch for was worth its weight in lead in my eyes, but Nickel had been hopping with joy over the idea of a set of Ubaid tombs as of yet untapped.

I’d merely rolled my eyes.

Now I could just wring his damn neck for getting me into this deathtrap.

A crumbling of mortar tumbles over my shoulder, a hissing cadaver perched atop a column just above me, wielding the ancient looking sword within its cracked leather casing, its eyeless sockets filled with an unholy green light as it opened its mouth to an unholy size. It howls at me in anger or hunger.

Or happiness?

I have no idea, so I respond by ramming the trowel up into the creature’s chest, the steel cracking through the creatures sternum with the sound of dry timber snapping. It doesn’t seem to mind as it swings its sword at me with clumsy fumbling, falling off of the pillar as I yank the creature down with me into a wrestling match, stabbing at the creature madly as it howls in agony, its weak claws scratching at my shirt feebly as I vent my frustrations out on the unholy being.

Two more come bounding around the corner, caterwauling like a pair of mated tigers after the people who stole their cubs. The creature beneath me is barely grasping at my boots as I stand, feeling a little more empowered seeing as the damn things obviously can’t fight worth a damn. I scoop up the leather ensconced sword from the creatures twitching talons. The two creatures run at me, moving more like wolves than men, hissing their greeting as they leap over the rubble. I raise the sword more like a mallet, bringing it down to the crown of one of the mad beasts, hammering its skull more than cleaving it.

The leather cracks away more than any damage I did to the screeching corpse beneath me. This one is far stronger than the other, giving me a rather painful sense of anger at myself for being made to believe I could effectively fight these things. My leather-clad sword serves some healthy justice snapping the wrist of the second howling creature as it pounces onto my back, the thin pink veins doing little to keep the fractured bone connected to the body. The creature on my back encapsulates my head within its engorged mouth, the separated lower jaws forming a tight noose around my neck as the creature beneath me grabs hold of my wrists, their unholy shrieking becoming profane laughter as, rather than the intense pressure of a bite or the serrated edges of teeth, I feel a sudden pressure against the back of my head like I’d blocked off a water pipe. The one on my back pulls up slightly, allowing room for whatever its vomiting to move over me, and thousands of scarabs and carrion beetles begin scuttling over and under my clothes, their feathered legs leaving long shallow cuts wherever they fall.

I throw my weight back, slamming my insect-filled foe into a column behind me, a disgusting squelching noise similar to the sound of rotting pumpkins being thrown from an overpass rising from its chest, along with a series of audible snaps as I cave in its torso. It falls to the ground in a heap, wheezing out a steady stream of insects that seem to have decided to turn on him rather than me.

Thank God, because I can feel a few dozen finding spots all over my body and beginning to claw through my epidermis, seeking the warmth of the womb that my body would provide. The leering undead still grasping my wrists expands his mouth out, his hollow throat beginning to bulge as it seems he feels like sharing his personal wealth of flesh-eating insects.

Bang!

Bang!

Two shots fired from Professor Nickel’s personal hunting rifle tag the creature, once in the temple and again in the right shoulder, effectively blowing it to pieces in my very hands. While old, senile and eccentric, Professor Nickels always carries two guns with him at all times, something he’d suggested I do as well, once I actually earn some money to buy something. Slinging his Sharps Buffalo Rifle back over his back, you can just barely make out the holster to his M1911 pistol, something he tells me “one should always keep loaded when on an expedition, just in case.”

I’d assumed he’d meant bandits!

“Joshua!” He calls out from half way across the rubble-strewn room, hopping to and fro like a bullfrog after a fat firefly. “Did they get any on you?”

“Yes!” I all but screech as I feel three particularly large beetles begin wriggling their way into my skin, pushing a hole through my flesh. Three red blotches begin to form over my clothes, two over my stomach and one over my right thigh.

“Quickly, drink this!” He says, shoving a glass bottle into my hand that I happily begin fumbling with the cap. After several seconds of nervous fumbling, I growl and slam the top end of the bottle across an old mosaic next to me, breaking the bottle open wide enough for me to begin guzzling the foul smelling liquor held within.

“The larvae will die quickly enough if you’re sauced to the gills,” Nickels explains, his wrinkled face crinkling further as he smiles at me as I continue to drain the bottle, a faded paper label bearing the words “Ever” before being too rubbed out to see. With my throat on fire and my insides wriggling with parasites that were continually burrowing into me, I drop to the ground gasping for air, dropping the empty bottle into the sand.

“It will hurt like hell in the morning, let me tell you,” Nickels says with a smile, patting me on the shoulder with a gnarled hand. “The alcohol will drive them out of your body, or kill them. You’ll have to pay a nice doctor to drain your infected wounds once we get back to Baghdad in a few weeks.”

I sputter at the thought, my head spinning. “A few weeks? Did you not just see what we had to deal with?”

The old man waves his hand in the air at me as if a foul odor was passing. “Merely temple guardians, looters that fell prey to the traps around here and found themselves as guards for tombs and the like. But I have a good feeling on this one lad, a good feeling!”

“However so?” I ask, moving to my feet rather shakily, leaning heavily on my newest acquisition, the sword reaching an easy four feet in length.

“Well, that sword for one thing!” Nickels says with a wide, toothless grin. “The Ubaid weren’t known for their iron-working abilities, merely their domestic advancements; I’ve long since held belief that there was a civilization here before the Ubaid, based on their legends of metal men and the like, and that sword is quite a piece of history if I do say so myself.”

“Well at the moment it’s my cane because I can feel a goddamned roach burrowing deeper into my gut!” I hiss at him, but he pays it no mind.

“The tomb I found, the one that you wandered away from, well it is just what I was hoping for when I saw it and the great seal over it!” He crows, dancing about me like a mad little leprechaun. “The seal predates the Ubaid by at least five hundred years, and it has markings similar to the ones the Sumer used to mark royalty. I think I found myself the crypt of a King of an Empire not yet recorded!”

“Bully for you…” I grumble, limping alongside him.

He looks up at me with a discouraging glare. “Don’t tell me you’re going to be this much of a whiner the whole expedition, are you? Because if you think those petty guardians were anything worth talking about than you don’t even want to know what is probably lurking down in that tomb we’re going to be breaching in the morning.”

I could barely keep from collapsing as I felt the first of my burrowing playmates begin to spasm from the strong grain alcohol I’d ingested. My head swimming with drunken vigor and mild blood loss, all I could do was glare at the old man as we settled into our campsite, twin pair of tents and several large chests scattered about the sandy cavern we’d climbed down into, our camels left at a small oasis some two miles East of here with a tribe of nomads that Nickels seemed to be on good terms with.

Drunkenly leaning back, I decide to take a solid look at my walking blade, brushing away the flaking leather to take a better gander at the iron beneath it. It was in near pristine condition, a few touches of age here and there, but no actual structural damage to the frame of the blade. I knew for a fact that the museum back in London would pay me an easy ten thousand quid for the thing more than enough to pay off any outstanding loans I have hovering about my head at the local gambling houses.

Despite the crazed dead and demented midget, this dig might not is so bad at all.

***

I awake to the sounds of scraping stone and the grinding of dried mortar, giving my sleep-addled mind a sharp spike of adrenaline, considering all that has happened to me so far. I push my way up, wincing at the numerous bruises and scratches that are littered over my thin frame. The fire we’d assembled atop the tomb still burned bright, shining slivers of starlight peering through the narrow crevice we’d climbed through to get to this hellish dig.

I find Professor Nickels crouched over the tomb’s seal, hammer and chisel in hand as he is lightly tapping away at the edges of the four-foot circular disk of stone. Hunched over in the darkness, the old man makes me think of the stories of gremlins, incomprehensible creatures that would come into your home at night and hide your shoes, or take your socks. The old man is goofy looking not because of his wild mane of hair sprouting from the side and back of his head instead of the top, nor because he wore glasses that had adjustable nobs on them to move lenses in and out of the frame, allowing him to examine things “in better detail”, while essentially looking like the King of the Insane Beetles.

He was goofy because he didn’t care what everyone else thought of him, and despite his low social standing amidst the Historical community, he churned out peer-reviewed research like clockwork every six months that furthered our knowledge of ancient cultures. So the eccentric midget was tolerated, and asked only to teach two classes a year, when the icy chill of winter would spread over England and him would remain cloistered within his quarters, writing and compiling notes in between classes.

“Professor, what are you going?” I ask tiredly, leaning heavily on my shining sword, which had taken quite a bit of work to get to this poor level of shine let me tell you. The Professor, after looking it over, had declared it to be from the same time period of the Ubaid people, but not of their make (metallurgy was beyond them), theorizing it came from a group that “displaced” the Ubaid through warfare, eventually creating the Sumerian culture some five to seven hundred years later, depending on who you were talking to.

“Joshua, my boy, come down and help me move the seal!” He calls to me, still squatting impossibly low for a man of his advanced age. “The mind is willing, but the flesh is withered and old; I need a young strong back to move the seal so that we can continue our explorations!”

I sigh and walk over next to him, dropping to my knees and taking as firm a grip as I could at this awkward angle and begin to shove with all my might, slowly moving the three to four hundred pound slab inch by inch. After moving it halfway open, he orders me to halt, giddy at the smell of the musty old air rising from the crypt below us.

“Why didn’t you just break the damn seal so we could just go down? Now my back feels like it’s been run through a sausage grinder.”

“Call it vanity on my part, but once we’ve cataloged what’s in the primitive tomb, I’ll want to bring that seal with me, as a souvenir.” He said with a grin. “Don’t worry; you won’t have to be my porter for that one. Plus, if we discover something down there that could be called ‘The Mother of All Evil,’ I’ll be wanting that seal intact to cover it back up.”

“The Mother of All Evil?” I repeat, looking at the spry little dwarf of a man as he flipped between lenses on his glasses, peering into the darkness beneath the seal.

“Oh my, it looks like we’ll need some rope… perhaps a hundred or so feet of it.”

“What’s down there that’s so important that we need to go deeper into this crypt Professor?” I ask, curious to what he can see with his steam-powered headgear. He looks up at me, all of his additional lenses flipping back at once, rolling back into their separate compartments.

“What I’ve been looking for my boy, what I’ve been looking for.” He says with a grin, hopping from foot to foot gleefully at the discovery. Rolling my eyes, I climb back up to our campsite to retrieve the rope and the climbers gear. Hammering in three pitons (safety first!) I loop the knotted silk rope around them and tie as harness about myself, as well as a smaller backpack rigging that I planned on tucking the good Professor into, the twisted little bastard. He happily tucks himself into the makeshift backpack, jabbering on about how important this find was, and other such nonsense.

I just wanted to live through this now, like I said.

“Professor, mind if I take your Pistol, for the time being? I feel a little… unsafe walking around with just a sword.” I ask, trying not to sound too desperate in my plea.

“You’re a young strapping buck, Joshua,” He said from his safety harness on my back, patting my kidneys to reassure me. “A sword should be fine enough for you. I never lend anything, my boy, anything at all! That’s how you lose your favorite books or good pens, you know.”

I ignore the urge to just throw the little man down the hole and just make my final adjustments with the rope and the pitons, ensuring their driven deep into a solid section of stone and not just some piece of loose tile. Strange, there are several other holes in the stone similar to the ones I’m hammering in, almost a ring of them surrounding this pit. I pay them no mind as Professor Nickels urges me to move forward.

“The ropes seem fine Joshua, just fine! Now let’s get a move on!” Professor Nickels whined from my back.

“Hey, I’m just making sure this will work alright? Whatever’s been down there had been down there since before the pyramids, according to you, it can wait another five minutes.” I snap at him, still trying to figure out how to carry my sword (which is essentially the same size and weight as the good Professor) while shimmying down a rope into a darkened tomb. I reach in my side satchel and pull out a flare, cracking it against the stone floor to ignite the magnesium and sawdust held within it, the foot long rod now glowing as brightly as the sun.

“What’s that?” Professor Nickels asks, sounding somewhat worried. “Are we being attacked?”

I can feel him pulling his rifle closer to his chest and quickly snag the butt of it with my armpit. “No, I’m just throwing a flare down in the hole, relax.”

“What? Why on earth are you wasting a flare when I already told you it was perfectly safe?” He demands hotly, struggling to break my ironclad grip on his rifle.

“Because I can’t see in the dark as you can you old loon.” I curse and, before he can reply, tuck the flare into the rope about my waist (the fiery bright end up against a boiled strip of leather I used to protect my kidneys whenever I practice boxing in between classes) before jumping down into the hole, feeling the roughened silk rope slide through my leather clad glove as the two of us scream at our rapid descent.

I ditch my sword when I see the ground is coming too quickly and grab the rope with all my might, turning us into a swinging pendulum a good ten feet from the dusty ground. My hands sting from the sudden friction, and I thank God for the fact I’d brought along all of my fighters gear, just in case.

The palms of my gloves are forever ruined, but at least I had hands.

Professor Nickels undoes his rigging, dropping to the floor lightly with a fit of giggles. “Good God, what a rush! It’s a shame we can’t do it again, eh?”

I give him a sour look that I know he ignores and pull the flare from my belt, holding it up high to take a look at what this chamber held. It was built in the shape of a bell, the base much wide than the top, with flaring buttresses and smooth stone sloping up the walls. A surprising lack of murals for such a wide chamber, but as I approach one of the walls I can tell why: hundreds of slats running along the walls, perhaps a foot deep and a foot wide, are filled to the brim with human bones.

Professor Nickels wasn’t joking when he called this a tomb.

He hobbles up next to me, studying the architecture with glee as he jots down note after note in his small moleskin journal. “Very nice, very nice indeed!” He said happily. Looking around at the vast collection of bones. “This must be a room where those sacrificed were to be placed.”

“Wait, how do you know that?” I ask, looking around for any sign of writing or any indication that this was a religious room.

“Well the only entrance is nearly a hundred foot drop, and while you may not have noticed, the center stone directly beneath the hole is made of much more durable granite, polished to a fine shine.” He said with a carefree smile. “The bones were placed into the walls after the victim had been thrown down here. I would also like to note, just to keep you alert, that none of these skeletons, no matter how incomplete, seem to have suffered any major broken bones.”

“That means something was down here to, what, sort the dead?” I ask hesitantly, looking down at Professor Nickels.

“No, I believe this is just a hobby for whatever it is they trapped down here some few thousand years ago.” Professor Nickels replied while eyeing the varying states of decomposition between the bones. “Grab your sword Joshua… we might still have need of it.”
***

The entire room was indeed built like a bell, tapered at the top, with curving walls flowing downward in a wavy pattern that suggested the site was originally a naturally existing cavern that some primitive culture had chosen to alter. The entire room is roughly two hundred feet in diameter, with four pillars acting as support for the structure forming a square some fifty feet apart from each other, and seventy-five feet or so from the Charnel-lined walls. Everything was carved from smooth granite, with few actual etchings marring in the stone, indicating the tools used to fashion the tile, and the columns were metal, not stone.

Professor Nickels was ecstatic, having pulled an oil lantern from his prodigious satchel, creating a wreath of comforting light around us. He did this not for comfort, but to study the pillars, and the drawings ever so carefully carved into them. I chose to shoulder merely my sword and stay by the old man, watching for whatever could be down here that enjoyed sorting bones.

Scribbling furiously in his journal, Professor Nickels was blathering on about how this was supposed to be the antechamber to the “River of Continued Life,” which would either represent a belief in reincarnation or a belief in an underworld reachable only by waterway. Both of these beliefs existed in this area at a later date, the rocky hills and mountains of Iraq having played host to Roman and Hindu alike. But from what little Sanskrit and hieroglyphs I knew, damned if I could say they were similar to the writings on the pillars.

My flare, slowly dying out, left a large black mark on my leather bodice, and so I chose to use it as an exploratory tool, mostly by throwing it as far as I could.

Bouncing off the wall (and narrowly flying into a slot full of femurs), the flare drops down with a clatter and rolls for a few moments, illuminating a passage by just the barest shred of shadow. I immediately break out another flare, cracking it to life with a sizzling twist and hurl it into the gaping maw of the passage, its landing kicking up a small cloud of dust and grim as it rolls about, hissing and spitting sparks. For the briefest of moments, I thought I saw the flicker of movement within the flares fluorescent glow, but thankfully it was just a cloud of detritus that had been stirred up.

“Well now this is strange,” Professor Nickels says aloud, a phrase that I can safely say is never safe to hear when you are hundreds of feet beneath the ground. “It keeps referring to a symbol that could either mean ‘Keeper Of’ or ‘Keeper from’.”

“Those are two big distinctions Professor, and I’d rather not die fighting whatever the hell acts as a Keeper to this place, only to find your supposed ‘Mother of all Evils; down here.” I reply, eyeing the passage and the two sets of light keeping it illuminated. “Check another Pillar, see if they have a different reference, a different story.”

“That might be best, as now all I am finding are references to something that I shouldn’t be reading here of all places,” Professor Nickels said with a grunt, walking over to the next pillar, the one furthest from the passage. “The symbol… it can’t be what I think it means, as that would prove this to be a very dangerous place.”

“What symbol? Maybe I’ve seen it somewhere.” I offer, thinking it worth a shot. After all, I am an archaeologist in training.

He looks at me oddly as if not looking at the man he knew me to be but with a sudden, distrusting glint. “You’ve never studied at Miskatonic University, have you?”

“Miskatonic? No, I tried to get in but my application was rejected. Their standards are too high for me to attain for now. Why?” I ask, confused. What did the infamous Arkham University have to do with knowing an ancient symbol?

“Then thank whatever God you believe in that you can’t confirm that symbol for me.” Professor Nickels utters as he pushes past me and to the next column, dropping his bag to serve as a seat as he begins scribbling notes from the pillar, his translations slow and steady.

I chose to crack open another flare and follow along the walls to make certain I wasn’t missing any other passages, slowly running my hand along the centuries old stone as I go. Cool to the touch, yet oddly bereft of any dust, or soot. The passage has been full of such debris, but it seemed as if a maid had come through just before us, tidying everything up.

I make a discovery that nearly kills me as I stumble upon a sudden drop-off, just opposite of the passage. The wall opens and goes back about twenty feet, for about thirty feet of wall space. A small stone bridge, barely three feet in width, crosses over to an alcove on the other side, where the most bizarre statue I’ve ever seen sits atop a fountain.

A creature that looks aquatic by nature, with fins and frills sprouting from its three tentacle appendages that it is using to rise from the fountain, with carved from what I could only guess to be marble. The tentacles themselves reared up, showing off what any normal squid would have but instead revealing a row of carved eyes, each set with a small faded emerald. The tentacles connected with the main body, a bulbous center followed by a long serpentine tail that it was resting upon, like a cobra raised up.

The head of the beast was lowered and shaped like a bell, with a three-foot wide lamprey mouth slowly spewing water into the fountain beneath it. One great eye, shut for reasons I could never guess, sat atop the head, but from where I stood I could see spacing for the eyelids to move, probably if a lever were turned or something.

The rest of the fountain was nothing but a great piece of art depicting a city, embossed figures running away from the great beast while smaller versions of the creature seemed to be chasing them.

“I’d say early ninth century BC,” Professor Nickels says from my elbow, eyeing the disturbing piece as well.

“What the hell is that?” I ask, waving my flare at it. “I’ve never heard of any tales of giant sea beasts that resemble that.”

To say its name is said to garner its attention, but to ease this conversation, we shall call it by the title it earned: Darkness Given Hunger.” The Professor said with a sigh, staring at the statue with the look of a man lost in a terrible, terrible memory. “If this is this far south… what this is isn’t what I was looking for.”

“Well, you were looking for evidence of older civilizations Professor.”

“Not this kind, and certainly not here of all places.” Professor Nickels grouses, moving over to his pack in a sudden hurry.

From deep below our feet the entire complex quaked with the churning of some unwholesome howl, along with the groaning of the very stone around us. Whatever Nickels feared could be down here, it sounded as if it just now took note of us.

How that would play out, I couldn’t say.
***

Professor Nickels had decided to drop finally his mammoth backpack to the temple floor, a sudden cloud of dust bursting up from the floor in a choking miasma that left both of us coughing. Flipping over the seal of his bag, he rooted within its cavernous interior until he yanked free two cartridges of ammunition for his M1911, pulling back the safety and checking over the heavy pistol before tossing it to me.

“While the sword’s a nice touch, I’ve got a feeling that we’ll need a bit more arms than that to deal with what we’re going to find down here.” Professor Nickels says with a wry chuckle, carefully loading his Sharp’s rifle with the inch long bullets as he spoke. “A good deal of trouble should be heading our way if my guess is right.”

“Guess? What guess? And shouldn’t we be leaving if you think we’re going to be in trouble?” I ask, fumbling with the heavy pistol before getting a good feel for it, sheathing my sword in the crumbling scabbard as I watch him pull out small green orbs, a metallic sheen glinting from the flare’s bright glow.

Grenades? “What are we going to need those for? To cover our escape?”

“We stood in front of the statue lad, shed blood over the top soil of the creature’s tomb,” Professor Nickels calmly explains. “If I’d but known this was a sight where one of these blasted things dwelt, I’d never have of brought you here. For that, I’m deeply sorry.”

“What things? This Darkness Given Hunger thing?” I ask, growing slightly annoyed at how little the dear professor was sharing. I snap my head to the side, looking down the tunnel opposite of the statue leading down, down deeper into the cold womb of the earth. A distant echo was coming from the tunnel, a wet noise… like the sound of mud dropping from the hide of an elephant, plopping to the ground in great sickly splats.

“The Darkness Given Hunger is something put to sleep thousands of years ago by ancient man, and kept in a tomb under lock and key.” The Professor begins to explain, moving away from his pack with a surprising amount of speed, back straight for the first time that I’d ever seen. “Legend’s tell of creatures made from the blood and dreams of the slumbering beast, creatures that act as both its wardens and its servants.”

“Servants? What the hell are you talking about?”

“The creature and its ilk are as close to damned gods as mankind have ever seen! They ruled over the ancient civilizations as monstrous tyrants while others merely reveled in slaughtering entire empires, feasting on our flesh and drinking our blood!” Professor Nickels all but shouts, sliding the bolt of his rifle into place. “We’re going to need to do something about this… an unholy site like this must be sealed up, locked away from people who would stumble blindly into it.”

“So the grenades?” I ask, watching as he slings a smaller pack (pulled from his larger one) over his shoulder, filling it with the small cylindrical grenades and sticks of dynamite. “And the dynamite?”

“We’re going deeper, deep enough to where the tunnel is narrow and beneath several tons of earth.” The good professor replied, shouldering his rifle. “And then we’re going to coax out some of these creatures out and kill them so I can have a look at them before blowing this place back to the bowels of Hell where it belongs.”

A horrid, gurgling screech echoes from the depths of the tunnel before us, a scrabbling of steel upon stone as… something is coming up from the unknown. “Here comes the first wave… this should tell us what we’re dealing with.”

I look at him like he’s a madman (which isn’t unusual) before moving behind a pillar, putting my back to the cool stone as I pull a new flare from my satchel, cracking it to life before spinning around the pillar and throwing it into the dimly lit tunnel, my previous flare having begun to peter out.

The thrown flare collides solidly with a wet slap against the chest if you could call it that, of unholy terror torn from the brainchild of Dr. Seuss and Escher. Two legs rising from the top of the creature’s body, multiple joints visible beneath the gelatinous skin moving in tandem as the creature shuffles awkwardly towards us, my flare seemingly stuck to its hide by viscous ooze seeping from its pores.

The main torso is nothing but a lone, unblinking eye and a series of snake-like tentacles, all ending in three pronged mouths that writhe and hiss. Its feet are boneless, shapeless blobs of protoplasm that it used to balance upon, merely sliding along the ground with its leg movements rather than lifting its feet like any other creature would. The crackling flare stuck just above its eye created a corona of light that illuminated the rest of the hall, revealing another three such creatures shambling up the hall towards us.

Professor Nickels breaks me from my horrified stupor with the loud crack of his rifle, echoing across the chamber as the high caliber round lances through the gelatinous hide of the first creature, passing through it and through another still, all without slowing them down. Cursing, he fires two more shots, blasting away large globs of their green flesh, spattering it against the walls around them as he begins firing at their legs.

But still they push on, onward into the chamber, their tentacles stretched out towards us hissing, hissing in a language that seemed too alien for me to understand, yet I understood all too well. Words of pain and suffering, of my eternal agony and of their eternal suffering flitted through my mind, images of men being torn asunder by armies of these creatures, of how the oceans would grow dark with their passing, consuming anything and everything in their path.

And of how they dreamed of doing it again.

“Focus damn it!” Professor Nickels shouts at me, reloading his Sharps as quickly as his arthritic hands can. “They get in your mind unless you focus!”

Seeing what little effect his bullets seemed to have on these gelatinous horrors before us, I move from behind the pillar, focusing on the creature with the smoldering flare charring it’s quivering mass. I fire three rounds as I calmly walk up to it, one going wide and striking the floor a few yards behind it, but the other two piercing deep into the creatures eye, a spray of writhing maggots erupting from the two holes made over the sensitive flesh. The snake-like tentacles screech in agony, growing louder in pitch as I lunge forward with my blade, hacking into the writhing mass with vigor I never knew I possessed.

The multiple maws all shriek with fury untold as I hack and tear them away from the creature’s bobbing form, firing bullets into the center of its bulbous, now deflated, eye as I slash and jab away at its tentacles as if they were mere weeds. Prof. Nickels, watching the effect of shooting them in the eye, unloads a single round into the remaining threes’ large eyes, the floor now smeared with trampled maggots and green blood.

It takes me but a moment to realize, as I’m rending into the beast, that I’m slowly growing taller than it. Looking down, I see several of the severed tendrils, now mawless but still quite flexible, wrapped around my legs and waist, lifting me high into the air above it. Confused, I drop my gun and grip my sword tightly with both hands, swinging in wide arcs to tear away the strands holding me aloft.

With mounting horror and a moment of realization, I saw the bones within the gelatinous beast, the ones that seemed to be there to grant the beast legs and a torso, begin to realign within the central mass of the blob.

Realigning into a humanoid shape.

The creature let loose a horrid squelching noise as the skeletal remains of what was once a living, breathing man burst from the gelatinous walking tomb, sharpened fingers curled into talons as it lashes out, tearing four wide strips in my jerkin with its razor sharp talons. A wet, hollow laughter fills the corridor as the maggots still spewing from the central eye began to swarm back into the creature’s feet, swimming through their host to slowly writhe and contort over the skeletal torso sticking out of the top of the stoop creature.

“Fleshlings… for the master…” The skeleton rasps with a dark voice, the maggots swarming over him, flattening out until they were bursting from the pressure to form a semi-solid paste over the skeletons body. The other three were doing the same, skeletons climbing out of the gelatinous beasts as the writhing streams of maggots fueled a horrid transformation granting them a taut skin coat as pale as the moon. “All will kneel… within his shadow…”

“Kneel to this!” I shout swinging my blade in a heavy-handed arc down into the fragile looking frame as it was climbing from its roost.

Clang!

I stare in shock as the skeleton, now more of a pasty-colored emaciated monster, writhing maggots peeking out from its empty eye sockets, stands there with both hands held high, a thin staff of green slime having jutted out from the quivering mass to block my strike, it’s hardness now equal to that of my ancient blade. As the laughing dead takes a firm grip of the staff, a wicked curved blade grows from the end of it, turning the staff into a scythe. A sickening noise akin to vomit hitting the floor echoes across the chamber as my foe tears his new weapon from his former host, his comrades creating the same weapons from their symbiotic graves.

“The Darkness… feeds… needs to awaken…” The skeletal creature rasps, limping forward towards me, dragging its heavy ended weapon along the stone floor beside it, the scratching of iron on stone grating in my ears. “Bleed… bleed for Qas!”

Bang!

Bang!

Bang!

Professor Nickels quickly begins to reload his rifle as his three shots blast away great chunks of my foes body, rending off an arm at the shoulder socket and blowing away its left lower leg from the knee down.

Undaunted, two of the other undead warriors (the third stumbling from the Professors second shot, which blew away a good portion of its upper body), scythes raised high in the air with screams on their lipless mouths’. I pull my ancient saber back, stepping to the side as a heavy ended scythe came crashing down into the stone with a heavy cracking noise. Before the creature could pull back, I swing my blade in imitation of the abominations maneuver, severing its arms at their elbows, the skeletal forearms still wriggling on the shaft of the scythe wedged into the stone floor.

“Qas… hungers for yo-urk!” The creature hisses at me before I ram the full length of my blade into its skull, the hilt shattering its aged teeth with a sickening crunch. Putting a boot to the creatures face, I hop to the left to put the wriggling undead between me and his last dangerous friend and kick him free from my blade, sending the armless body tumbling into its colleague, who mercilessly twirls its weapon and bisects its allies broken form.

“Flesh… blood… spirit…” The creature hisses as it advances on me, holding the deadly curved blade high before it, a guard flawless against anything I can do.

Bang!

… but not anything Professor Nickels can do. His rifle shot blasts the last skeletons head into disjointed fragments, a rancid green slime exploding outward from the sudden implosion caused by the .50 caliber round. The body stumbles for a moment before the eldritch energies holding it together collapse, the skeletal being falling to pieces as its composite bones are reduced to ash and grit.

The various scythes that the undead abominations had been wielding, as well as their pasty flesh that was drawn taut over their emaciated frames, began to bubble and dissolve as their evil spirits finally lose the battle to remain coherent.

“Good work,” Nickels says as he walks up behind me, reloading his rifle. He scoops up his pistol from the ground and holsters it again, giving me a wary eye. “That sword of yours better pack a wallop, because they confirmed what I feared was down here.”

“You mean…?”

“Darkness Given Hunger,” He interrupts, looking at me pointedly. “Never say his name, or his eye will be cast upon you. Even now he sleeps… hopefully.”

“Than what were those?” I ask, pointing my sword at the bubbling green muck at my feet.

“I’m no expert on the Elder Gods, but those were clearly fractured pieces of the Darkness that serve as guardians for him.” Professor Nickels says as he kneels by one of the steaming puddles, pulling a flask and a spoon from his satchel and ladling in a fair amount of the muck. “Each God has beings that serve them, which are a part of them. The followers of the Christian God call them Angels, the followers of the Yellow King have the Byakhee. If I recall, Darkness Given Hunger has the Dreamless Nightmares, or Quan-gao.”

“Yeah, I can see where they’d get that name.” I say, toeing one of the puddles with my boot. “That sounds somewhat Asiatic in nature.”

“That’s because it is,” Professor Nickels replied from his place on the goo slathered ground. “The Darkness Given Hunger was originally sealed by the Uruk, the Sumerians. How do you think they overcame the vast Ubaid empire history claims they toppled?

“I’ve never thought about it.” I admit, wincing as the Professor pulls a slicked shard of bone from the quivering mass.

“Nobody ever does. Every time a great empire fell, it was because one of these… these things awoke or arrived from beyond time and space, and undid all that man had labored so many years to create. The Sumerians buried this creature after it gorged itself upon their civilization, merely renaming themselves afterward to the Sumerians thanks to the hero who led the battles against the Quan-gao.”

“So why didn’t the Sumerians deal with all of the Quan-gao when they had the chance?” I ask, looking at the bubbling remains of the foul beasts.

“Each man slain in the Darkness’s name, or under his gaze, are pulled into his dreams and made into one of the beasts we just fought.” Professor Nickels says with a distinct shudder. “What you just did was release the souls of three men or women that had spoken his name and died by the hand of one of his agents.”

“Oh… that’s disheartening. And we’re going to go deeper into the tunnels where these things came from?” I ask a tad incredulously, pulling a pit of cloth free from my ruined shirt and wiping away the gunk from my blade.

“Just to blow the narrowest point of the tunnel closed, so that none of this can ever surface. If the Darkness awakens, the world as we know it could fade into a living nightmare.”

“Well if the world is at stake,” I say with a sigh, looking around the tunnel in search of something to plunder. “I’m going to need a shield. I can’t use a gun to save my life.”

“I know,” Professor Nickels said with a smile as he cracked his rifle into the ready position, “I saw. You do well with a blade, and if my eyes don’t deceive me, there’s a round shield just under that debris over there.”

Looking to where he was pointing, I indeed see a battered iron round shield, one that would have been used by virtually a dozen civilizations that had ruled over this area in the last thousand years, pinned beneath a large slab from the mosaic. Moving over, I wedge my blade into a crack in the detritus and heave my weight forward, breaking away the crumbling remains pinning my new prize to the ground.

Covered in verdigris and dents, the leather arm straps within the shield are surprisingly sound, with very little rot to them that I can see. The dented shields surface bears a wolf’s head symbol, perhaps linking it to one of the numerous barbarian tribes that had ravaged the lands above over the past thousand years.

How it got down here when it took the Professor and me over three days of spelunking is beyond me, but I’m thankful for it. I quickly tie the shield off on my left arm, freeing the hand to hold a flare.

While I busy myself with that, the Professor has been busy studying the remaining sections of mosaic with intense scrutiny, jotting down notes in his ever-present journal. “A group of people native to this land dedicated their entire civilization to worshiping the Darkness,” he says aloud as I’m adjusting the straps, “according to this for over five hundred years they lived in the caverns above, building this great complex to house the ancient horror while it lay dormant. Of course, they revered it as a God… and according to this it gave them blessings in return.”

“How? It’s asleep, right?”

The Professor snorts and shoots me a derisive glare. “A being like this is never fully asleep, nor fully awake. It neither lives nor is dead, it just is. Those ghouls up top we encountered were the caretakers of these sacred grounds, blessed with eternal life to serve better their God.”

“Oh…” And we’d killed them. “Then we better hurry, or the rest of them will notice those guards are missing and come looking for us.”

The Professor remains silent as he finished the mosaic, clearing his throat every few moments as he had to stoop to the pieces I had broken away to get a clearer view of what the pictographs read. From his face, they weren’t anything pleasant.

“Anything else I should know about?” I ask as I tighten the last arm brace over my bicep.

“Just that the Darkness slumbers so long as it is regularly fed warriors. If it goes too long without eating, it sends out the Quan-gao. If it goes even longer than it wakes up.”

“Lovely,” I grumble, adjusting my satchel along my hip to have a better sense of balance in the inevitable case of having another fight, “Well then let’s hurry and blow the tunnel closed so that it can’t get out.”
***

I move deeper down the dank tunnel, trying to ignore the saccharine scent of the dead that seems to pervade through the porous stone tunnel we’d begun descending about half an hour ago. The Professor has been unusually quiet as I move ahead of him, my tarnished shield and gleaming sword glinting softly in the light of the flare the good professor has dangled from an extended wooden rod from his satchel, held in place by the straps of his backpack and creating a peaceful glow that chased away the overwhelming gloom of the strange tunnels design.

“It’s like the stone wasn’t carved,” I muse as I slowly make my way down the smooth slope, the tunnel walls, and floor slick with the same green slime the Quan-gao had been comprised of.

“It wasn’t,” Professor Nickels said with authority, pulling a scroll from his side satchel as he spoke. “The Quan-gao are formed primarily of a weak mineral acid, something akin to Boric acid I believe, which allows the slumbering Darkness to guide his guardians in creating new tunnels for it to travel should it ever awaken.”

“Lovely,” I deadpan; slowly learning that the more I heard of this forgotten Elder God, the more I wished it remained forgotten.

“Look! Just up ahead, it looks like an opening!” The Professor says, a gnarled hand grasping my shoulder, shaking me excitedly. “Let’s go, we have much to do!”

“Shouldn’t we just set the charges here and blow the cavern closed?” I ask somewhat hesitantly as the good professor shuffles ahead of me. He shakes his head, sputtering on excitedly.

“No no no, that just won’t do! What if there are other tunnels?” He asked without looking back. “We need to ensure that we’re sealing the Darkness away for good, not just closing one of its many doors.”

I sigh at his usual impeccable logic, moving onward past his shuffling form to look to the edge of the darkened chamber, a sense of vertigo overcoming me as I stare into the vacuous void before me. A few moments later the dangling flare hanging above my diminutive professor allow me a greater chance to peer into the cavernous hollow, great pillars of stone lining the walls to hold the ceiling too high to see aloft. The floor of the cavern, a mere thirty feet from the tunnel they stood in, bubbled with darkened slime, the ooze shifting and swirling, moving like the slimy fried eggs, pushing and pulling against one another in an endless struggle for dominance.

“Well… this sure slows things down.” I say with a sigh, looking at my crazy Professor for an answer, one that he seems to have already ready as he is rooting through his satchel. The toothless man gives a cry of glee as he pulls a tightly wound orange rectangle from his bag, shoving it into my hands as he fishes out a pair of collapsible oars.

“You can’t be serious… we came to a dig in the desert, and you have an inflatable raft?” I nearly shout before he shushes me, looking across the cavern with concern. “What?”

“Nothing… I… I just don’t want to alert anything to our position.” Professor Nickels says, scratching at his neck idly as he set to extending the oars. “Roll out some rope and some pitons so we can have a safe drop down onto those waters, I want to make sure we don’t have anything else to worry about.”

“Are you serious?” I cry, pointing my sword out into the darkness, a low groan echoing through the cavern, waves of slime splashing against the rocks beneath us as if something titanic had just breached the surface of the small sea. “This right here is a big thing to worry about!”

“Now my young warrior, you have no reason to worry. Between your blade and shield and my gun, we’ll be fine.” Professor Nickels says with a smile as he slides the last piece of the oar into position. “I know you’re worried, but you must ask yourself: are you prepared to defend humanity from the otherworldly evil that lurks here, even if it may cost you your life?”

Taken aback by the strange question, I stare at my Professor with a measure of caution. “Well… of course, I mean… who wouldn’t be willing to save humanity?”

Professor Nickels serious demeanor melts away to his normally cheerful expression. “Well then, get to it! We need to be down there seeing what we need to do, not standing about like a couple of bumps on a log!”

***

After we’d scaled the slick wall to the crashing waves of darkened slime beneath us, the good Professor had pulled the ripcord on the raft, unfurling the great orange life raft in an awkward moment of sheer panic as the great boat almost overtook us and comedy as we fell from our tenuous grip on sanity and into the raft, the waves rocking us back and forth as Professor Nickels fastened the collapsible oars to the raft, moving to the helm of our teetering vessel and adjusting his glasses, peering off into the darkness.

“Full steam ahead my boy!” He says with a hearty chuckle, nodding to the oars as he moved past me towards the rudder. “It’ll take more than these withered old bones are capable of to battle these raging waters.”

“That is not water…” I grumble as a jellied glob splashes over the side, seemingly trying to stretch out in search of open skin. Taking the oars, I begin rowing as best I can against the swirling currents of the underground sea as Professor Nickels steers us along. Several times my oars slide between greasy ovoid’s, pushing them apart.

We drift for what feels like hours as my arms go numb from the strain of battling the turbulent currents, sweat pouring from my lean frame in buckets as I desperately tried to keep us on the Professors desired course. The entire time he praises me, telling me we were almost there, that we were only a few dozen yards from it.

Gasping for breath, I never thought to ask what it was.

Just as I felt my arms giving out from exhaustion, I was lucky enough to see the wicked grin the cracked across my scholarly advisers face as he lunges across the raft with his rifle held firmly between his white-knuckled hands, the butt of the gun making a shuddering snap as he beat me across my brow with the butt of the gun, dropping me back from the force of the blow, my vision swimming as I struggle to understand what had just happened.

I struggle even further when he brings the butt of the rifle down onto my face, breaking my nose and shattering my front teeth in a sickening crunch, tears streaming from my eyes as I watched him slowly pull the weapon from my face, a fractured piece of one of my front incisors sticking to the butt by a thin coating of my blood. He steps over me, shucking off his heavy satchel onto my chest, I suppose to pin me in case I had any fight left within me, as he moves to stand at the bow of our miniature raft, hands held high overhead.

“Qas!” He intones, a low moan akin to the call of a whale rising up from beneath us as he lowers his arms once more, jumping from the raft and landing on something hard just out of my sight… something made of stone? “I’ve brought you the blood of a tested warrior, one who will allow you to slumber still. Come to your servant and grant me my boon and I will render unto you the supple flesh of the young and the brave!”

This can’t be good. I struggle to move the massive pack off of me, but with between my swimming vision and my numb arms I can only flail uselessly as he hops back onto the raft with the dexterity of a man a tenth his age, rolling the bag off of me and hoisting me up onto his shoulder.

Coughing up blood and a few teeth, I look at him through the one eye that can see. “No expert, eh?” I laugh, hacking up a lungful of blood onto the back of his khaki jacket. He merely pats my aching back with a gnarled hand as he jumps from the raft, landing on a large stained stone, rounded along the edges, before dumping me onto the ground with the care of a man dropping a bag of gravel.

“What can I say boy,” He says with a smile and a genial shrug, “I’m a man who figured out a way to stay young forever while keeping mankind safe from the things that go bump in the night. I’m a bloody hero!”

As he’s saying these rivulets of blackened slime are trailing up along ridges carved into the stone, seeping and searching for my spilled blood. I wince as I feel, and hear, the caustic hiss of the ooze lashing to my leg, and then my arm, pulling me taut along the rock. I let out a wail of agony as the slime begins to suffuse over my body, eating away at my clothes and skin with a sound akin to the sizzling of a slab of meat on a grill. Just as my head begins to submerge beneath the malevolent muck, I see Professor Nickels leap back to the raft, my sword in his hand, calling out to me over his shoulder.

“Don’t worry m’ boy!” He shouts cheerfully as he begins to row away, leaving me to my horrid demise. “You’ll see me again in another fifty years!”

Credit To – Nicholas Paschall

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The Abalone Thief

May 19, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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Although there is no internet access or even cell phone service in this tiny cabin where I sit typing, perched on a cliff high above the Pacific Ocean, still I write this blog, in the hopes that it might find some new civilization, long after mankind is gone. That this may be a testament to one man who found faith and religion, after doubting for so long.

You see, I was never a spiritual or superstitious man. I was a man of science. A student. A marine biologist. Before this I never had what one would call faith in anything resembling religion. To me it was all math, everything. The strange mutations of life were simply an exponential progression of evolution. But now, as I see the sacramental fires burning bright on the beach below me, and feel the awakening of the ancients echo in my sleep and dreams, now that I realize that man’s time is over and it is a new beginning for beings much greater and more powerful than our own, I offer up a poem, a sacrament, a narrative, to the events that unfolded before the great awakening.

Let me start at the beginning.

I was a doctoral student at the University of California Santa Cruz working on my PhD in marine biology. Mollusks were my specialty. Specifically Haliotoidea Haliotis rufescens, or as they are known by their common name: red abalone. Abalone are an edible type of sea snail, a marine mollusk, single shell gastropod found in coastal waters around the globe. Like all snails they have a head, with a mouth and a pair of eyes, and a foot which they use to cling to rock formations while using their file like tongue to scrape algal matter into their mouths. They also have an enlarged pair of tentacles. They are considered a delicacy, their flesh being comparable to calamari. Red abalone, the largest and most prized of the species, are found only on the west coast of North America. Red abalone are not endangered but because of overfishing and acidification of oceans they have become rather scarce; that is why, California put a ban on the commercial fishing of them in the 1990s. They can be harvested for personal use only north of San Francisco, April through November, with a hiatus in July, and with a limit of only three a day and a total of eighteen a year.

Since I was writing my doctoral thesis on Haliotis rufescens it was deemed that I should spend the summer in a tiny fishing village called Shelter Cove. There I would study, measure, count and map the abalone and also report any suspicious activities relating to abalone poachers to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. So, when the school semester ended in June I packed up all my gear (scuba set, books, slides, specimen jars, microscopes) and strapped my kayak to the roof of my trusty old Subaru outback and headed north up highway 101 for Shelter Cove.

Shelter Cove is a quiet little hamlet on the coast of Humboldt County. The sign as you enter declares it, “An Island in Time”. There is only one long, winding road in, which climbs up to nearly 2,000 feet as it transcends the summit of the King Range mountains and, conversely, only that one twisting, dangerous, cliff strewn road out. To the south is nothing but inaccessible shoreline facing steep cliffs, dotted with pockets of tiny beaches where the surf smashes down on jagged rocks, and deep, dangerous tide pools. To the north it is relatively the same, only a thin, potholed, dirt road winding over the cliffs slightly to the east.

This is why this area is known as Humboldt’s Lost Coast. The brave surf and kayak here but it has a notorious rip tide and once an entire troop of tired boy scouts resting on the beach were swooped up by a sleeper wave and sucked out to their deaths in the ocean’s depths.

The lodgings that were given to me consisted of a small cabin, nothing more than a shack really, perched high up on a cliff face. To the right I could see the boat launch the fishermen used, the caged in area where they gutted their catch. A small stretch of beach lay there where locals would drive their pick-up trucks up onto the sandy shore and drink beer and barbeque. To my left was another stretch of beach they called Deadmans, separated from the boat landing by a jutting cliff. Deadmans, a favorite surf spot, is only accessible by the ocean. The surfers have to paddle on their boards around the cliff face to get there.

The only internet access in Shelter Cove is from satellite and the university was too cheap to put one up in the shack they had supplied me with. I couldn’t even get cell phone service to use my phone as a hot spot. So when I had to post my data on the University’s Science Lab website, I would have to travel down the road a few miles to a coffee shop in the lobby of an old hotel that had Wi-Fi. There I could also manage to get cell phone service, but only in the parking lot at the top of a steep embankment.

My closest neighbors lived down a rutted dirt road. A young single mom and her 9 year old girl Suzy.

On my first day, as I was unfastening my ocean kayak from the roof of my battered old Subaru Outback, Suzy rode right up to me on her pink Huffy bike, an inquisitive look on her round little face.

“Who are you?” she asked in that bluntly curious manner children from small towns often have.

“My name’s Theodore.”

She nodded as if she approved of my name, her eyes wandering along all of my equipment.

“What’s all this stuff?”

“This is my scuba gear, these are specimen jars, and these, here in these boxes, are microscopes. With a microscope you can see real small stuff.”

“I know what a microscope is. The sixth graders use them at my school. Why do you have all this stuff?”

“Well, I’m a scientist and I’m here to study abalone.”

“Abalone? Oh gross, my Uncle Bob tries to make me eat that stuff every 4th of July. I don’t like seafood.”

“You live in a fishing village and you don’t like seafood?”

“No. I don’t like anything slimy, stinky, slippery, wet or gross.” She nodded her little head in that authoritative manner she had used when I told her my name and then rode off, leaving me standing there laughing.

After that day, whenever Suzy rode past on her bike and saw me she would stop and talk. Though she claimed to hate slimy stuff- (“Oh!” she’d squeal, “Get it away!” when I held up a baby squid for her inspection), she soon fell prey to the wonders of nature, marveling over a sea urchin or laughing uproariously at the awkward antics of a huge dungeness crab I had brought back from the ocean for her amusement. Her big brown eyes would gleam and her pig tails would bob up and down as she stroked a starfish. I showed her the tiny holes in the mantle of the abalone’s thick domed shell, the respiratory apertures, and explained to her how the sea snail vented water through them with its gills. She stared into the microscope at macro algae and I explained how the abalone fed on them with the small median teeth of the radula. As her enthusiasm began to grow I sensed a future marine biologist in the making and grew to truly love her visits.

I quickly settled into a routine of waking early and taking my kayak out to dive. Even though it was summer the water was cold, averaging about fifty degrees, and I had to wear a full wet suit with a hood and gloves. I would pull my hood over my head, pull down my half mask, put my regulator’s mouthpiece to my lips, and slip into the murky water to explore the underwater rock formations with my flashlight, looking for the domed, brick red shells that are the underwater homes of the abalone who had suctioned themselves to the craggy surfaces. I would count and measure them and then return to my kayak to scrawl out my findings. It was peaceful work but it could be dangerous. Every year dozens of abalone divers wash up dead on the shores, smashed against the rocks by a swell or sucked into dark ocean caves. In 2004 an abalone diver, who ironically worked for the Recreational Fishing Alliance and was on a federal fisher management panel, was attacked by a great white shark while diving not too far south from here, off the coast of Mendocino. When his friends first saw the huge cloud of blood in the water they thought it was some kind of sick joke. They were gravely mistaken. His mauled and ravaged body washed up on shore a day later.

In the evenings I would type out my statistics on my laptop, their average depth and proximity to the shore; and, in my free time, I would wander the desolate shoreline exploring the tide pools while I sipped a local micro-brew and sampled some of the fine cannabis the hills to the east of us were famous for. I’d gaze up at the sky, streaked in pink and purple as the sun sunk down into the ocean, watching pelicans beat their wings in unison as the high pitched wails of young harbor seals echoed off the towering bluffs. I was happy. As happy as I’ve ever been. By my third week I had charted the entire shore line for over half a mile.

At the end of the first month I had made enough inroads with the notoriously secretive locals to be invited to a party.

It was a wild event, held on a sprawling manor that sat on a grassy hillside with the ocean spread out below it. It was the last day of June and there would be a month long hiatus for abalone harvesting all of July, so the abalone divers were throwing a feast. There was abalone wontons, abalone salsa, two kinds of abalone ceviche, abalone sausage, but the most scrumptious was the abalone wrapped in dates, goat cheese and bacon and deep fried. All of this as well as the standard fare of salmon, halibut, cod and oysters. Bottles of wine from nearby vineyards littered the tables and ruddy faced fishermen gathered around kegs of local micro-brew. The sheriff was there in full uniform and when someone passed him a joint he puffed it and passed it on like everyone else.

A week into July I noticed a massive amount of abalone missing off the point of Deadmans.

Abalone concentrate where current flow causes drift seaweed to accumulate. The point of Deadmans was one of those places. Because abalone expand a large amount of energy when moving they tend to stay in one location. Last week the point of Deadmans had been littered with abalone; now, there wasn’t a single one left. I shone my flashlight along the submerged rocks, nothing. I reached my hand into a narrow crevice, felt around the deep fissure for the telltale feel of those thick shells, cautious and aware that a swell could suck me into the narrow space, crush my bones, wedge me in and trap me.

Even if there wasn’t a moratorium on abalone fishing going on an absence of this size was unprecedented. This had to have been some kind of large scale poaching. In San Francisco, in Chinatown, dried abalone sells as an aphrodisiac for $2,000 dollars a pound. A haul this big could easily net over half a million dollars.

First, I alerted the fish and game department. Next, figuring that the poachers, after having exhausted the supply on the point, would now move down into Deadmans cove itself, and that they would most likely come in the early twilight hours, I decided to stakeout Deadmans beach to see if I could catch the poachers if they returned.

The only way accessible to Deadmans cove is over the ocean; so, I hauled my kayak out to the boat launch, slipped it into the dark water, waves lapping at the concrete pier, jumped in and paddled out. There was a full moon but the fog was rolling in thick across the relatively calm water.

I kayaked past the beach where a few pick-up trucks were still parked, surfers relaxing on the shore and having a few beers after a day of riding the waves, and made my way around the towering point of Deadmans, carefully avoiding the crescent of jagged rocks that rose up out of the black water and fog. Paddling into the small cove I rode the surf up onto the beach. Pulling my kayak across the black, pebbly sand to the cliff face, I found a small cave, nothing more than a craggy wrinkle in the bluff, and tucked my kayak into it, camouflaging it with driftwood, dried seaweed and a few handfuls of sand. With my kayak hidden I hiked down the beach and behind a large, washed up tree stump I set up my small one person tent. I hunkered down for the night, staying awake for a good while, but then drifting off to a light slumber, determined to sleep lightly and awaken as early as I could.

In the middle of the night I awoke to a garbled noise. I at first assumed it was the yapping of sea lions; but as sleep left me, I realized it was human voices. It sounded like they were singing or chanting. I poked my head out of my tent. The entire beach was now draped in a thick shroud of fog, but when I peered out into the distance I was startled to see a mass of orange flames flicking up into the night sky. It was a huge bonfire and silhouetted around it appeared to be a circle of people. Was I dreaming? I blinked my eyes and focused on the fire and, yes, around the fire was a ring of people in black, hooded cloaks.

They held hands and slowly circled around the flames, chanting, with the fog swirling around them. On the outside of the circle were others,also in dark cloaks, remaining still as statues, holding torches. They couldn’t see me, hidden in the fog behind the massive log, and I watched curiously. It was definitely strange; but, I just assumed it was a bunch of teenagers getting weird, or, maybe even a coven of old hippy wiccans getting their witch on. Either wouldn’t be unheard of in these parts.

I watched the strange ritual for over an hour till they were done. Then they responsibly put out their fire (which impressed me), burying its smoldering remains in sand, and wandered up into a ravine where a trail took them up the cliff side. So there was a way to Deadmans cove besides the ocean. I would have to scope out that trail when I got a chance. Maybe the abalone thief used it to get to the beach.

Since the strange cultists, or whatever they were, had not waded out into the ocean or given any sign of abalone poaching, I paid them no real mind -live and let live, right? Just a bunch of kooks getting weird. I had often heard that Humboldt County was a weird place and that Southern Humboldt even weirder. I waited all day on the beach for any sign of poachers, eating trail mix and dried fruit, but saw nothing.

When the sun set and the sky began to grow dark I packed up my tent and went and retrieved my kayak. I had been on the beach for over twenty four hours and had seen no sign of the abalone thief. I pushed my kayak out into the surf, jumped in, and paddled back around the point.

That night, even though I was exhausted from my little expedition, I was restless and unable to sleep, tossing and turning in my bed. I went outside onto the cliff edge to smoke a joint and drink a beer to calm my nerves. A slight breeze stirred the leaves of the manzanita and dune tansy that lined the cliff edge, the salty smell of the sea heavy in the air.

It was then I noticed that from up here I could just make out a fire burning on Deadmans below me, tiny silhouettes of circling acolytes around it. I could even make out the torch bearers that encircled the group. They were back, the local weirdos. Probably just a bunch of Goth or metal kids who listened to too much Marilyn Manson. The beer and pot were doing their trick and I yawned, feeling exhaustion take over.

That night I had the first of the dreams.

I dreamed I was in the ocean, deep underwater, beneath the waves, examining the abalone. I ran my finger over their hard outer shell imagining their fimbriated head lobes, their columellar muscle. It was breeding time and I could see their respiratory apertures venting eggs and sperm into the ocean’s water column.

I had no scuba gear. I didn’t need it. It felt as if I had some sort of gills, for I could feel the salty water swooshing in and out of me as it churned, cold and green. Full of fascination I studied the formations of rock and shell as a hand, almost human, crept over the craggy shelf. It was covered in pale, green scales and the tips of the fingers ended in black claws. It reached out and took hold of a Haliotis rufescens’s blood red shell and slowly peeled it off the rock, the slime trail the sea snail uses to locomote leaving a viscous, oozing stain.

I gazed in wonder as a humanoid head then rose up over the rocky ledge. A face with the features of a fish: gills, small holes where the nose should be, massive black, empty eyes. I stared on as the creature put the abalone to its mouth and with fanged teeth pulled the sea snail slowly out of its shell and began chomping on it, swallowing it in quick, eager gulps. When it was done it extended a long, thin, black tongue, forked like the tongue of a snake, and licked the empty shell clean.

So this is the abalone thief, I thought to myself, with the calm and calculating mind of a scientist, without any fear whatsoever.

Then I saw, out in the murky distance of the ocean floor, more. There were more of them, hundreds of them. Maybe even thousands of them. An army of these scaled sea creatures, feeding on the abalone; I realized that they were gaining sustenance to strengthen themselves. They were preparing for something.

This army of creatures was readying themselves for the coming of a being greater than that that has ever roamed this earth. They awaited a great awakening. And in a massive epiphany, I realized the importance of their mission, and that I was needed; I must join them, lend my psychic support, and then I realized what the cult on the beach was doing, what their goal was. Then I looked down at my hands and realized that my hands, too, were webbed and covered in scales. I was one of them.

I awoke bathed in sweat, shivering, unable to dislodge the strange dream from my mind.

The dream was bizarre. Silly. Obviously it had no bearing on reality. Sea creatures poaching the abalone? But something within me felt different. I felt very unscientific. For the first time in my life I felt an inexplicable spirituality: a desire to worship a higher being, a higher power. I also felt very, very scared, though I couldn’t say why.

The next day I searched for the path that lead to Deadmans. I realized that from my cabin, I could walk along the cliff edge, between the clumps of coyote bush and dune tansy, down a hill into a gully that eventually formed into a steep, rocky ravine. Following this ravine down into a small valley I found the trail. Nothing more than a deer or elk path, really.

On an impulse I decided to stake it out that night. To watch and see if that strange group appeared again. Just to check them out, for curiosity sake, and see what they were up to. If I could identify any of them maybe I could question them about the abalone thief. See if they had any good intel on boats or strangers coming or going from the beach.

That night, sure enough, as I crept down to the ravine, I could see the fire burning on the beach below. I positioned myself off the trail and above the cove, just close enough to see the beach fairly well with my binoculars. I crouched down and put the binoculars to my eyes.

I could see that they were holding hands around the fire again, slowly rotating, most likely chanting the strange mumbo-jumbo I had heard last night. I tried to make out their faces to see if I could catch anyone I recognized, but their hoods obscured them and all I could see were dark shadows where their faces should be.

I scanned the gathering with my binoculars and noticed something going on off to the side, some sort of commotion against the cliff wall. Two hooded figures were holding a struggling figure by its arms. I focused my binoculars and what I saw made my mouth go dry and my gut clench. It was Suzy. They were holding little Suzy and she was naked. Naked and struggling. This couldn’t be.

Then, as I watched helplessly above, they pulled her forward to the fire. It took four of those cloaked maniacs to hold the squirming girl down, as another, this one’s robes a crimson red, raised what must have been a knife above her, for it glinted in the moonlight, long and pointed.

I froze.

What should I do? What could I do? There had to be at least a dozen of them down there.

Then it all happened so quickly: the knife fell and I thought I could hear that little voice I knew so well cry out in pain and go silent. The crimson robed one hacked into her chest and pulled out a dark object I could only assume was her heart and brought it to his mouth. He then passed it on, little Suzy’s pale, naked body now limp and crumpled on the sand.

I had to do something. I had to call the cops.

I spun around and clawed myself up off the ravine and as I did my foot slipped and I sent a shower of pebbles and dirt down into the mist covered gully. I froze, my mouth dust dry, clinging to the rock face. Had they noticed? With a pounding heart I started back up.

Once I got to the top I sprinted over the bluffs to my Subaru, now out of breath and huffing. Fumbling with the keys I started the engine and sped down the road. I squealed into the parking lot of the Inn of The Lost Coast, leaped out of my car and with sweaty, shaky hands dialed 911 on my iPhone. When I told the operator what had happened and where I was she transferred me to the sheriff.

“Calm down,” he said, “and explain to me again what happened.”

“I saw them kill her,” I said. “Kill her and eat her heart.”

“Who?”

“Suzy Anderson.”

“Suzy Anderson that lives on the corner of Toth and Steel Head with her mother Cathy?”

“Yes, I’m sure it was her. On the beach at Deadmans.”

“You saying she’s been murdered?”

“Yes.”

“By a cult in hoods on the beach?”

“Yes. Fuck. They ate her goddamn heart. Are you not listening to me?”

“Okay, Ted, okay. Just calm down. Now, listen, what I want is for you to go on home. I’ll check up on this and stop by after I get it all sorted out.”

“But they killed her.”

“Now, Ted…”

“But…”

This time firmer: “Now, Ted!”

“But…”

“Now, no more buts, Ted! You go on home and I’ll see you there. Got it?”

I couldn’t believe how nonchalant the Sheriff was being but what could I do? I would just have to do what he said: go back to my cabin and wait for him.

“Well, okay,” I said and I heard the line go silent. I stared down at the black device in my hand, knowing if I left this one small spot of land it would be rendered useless. I would be cut off from the rest of the world. Alone. But what could I do? He was the sheriff. Even if he was an overweight, pot head, he was the sheriff, and I had no choice but to listen to him.

So I drove back to my cabin and waited. I looked out over the cliff face but I couldn’t see the fire burning anymore. I drank a beer, tried to go over my data, but I was too shaken up. My hands shook so bad I couldn’t even manage to type numbers into the keyboard of my laptop.

Suddenly there was a knock at the door that startled the living shit out of me. Shook me to the bone. Wishing I had just hightailed it out of there earlier, driven away down that long winding road that was the only way in or out, never to come back, I crept up to the door and cautiously pulled the curtain of the window back. Peeking out the window I saw the Sheriff standing at my doorstep with Suzy’s mother Cathy and a little girl.

I tentatively pulled the door open.

“This the girl you saw murdered?” the sheriff immediately barked at me.

I gazed at the little girl before me, a girl the same age and height as Suzy, with similar hair, but definitely not Suzy.

“No. This isn’t her. I said Suzy Anderson.”

The little girl looked up at Suzy’s mother. “What’s he talking about, Mama?”

“This is Suzy Anderson,” the sheriff grumbled. “And this is her mother. Known both of ‘em my whole goddamn life. Now what the hell is going on around here?”

“No. It’s not. That is not Suzy. I saw them kill her!” I shouted. Somebody had to fucking believe me. I gazed up to Suzy’s mother who looked at me like I was crazy and clutched the little girl to her.

“Momma, Ted is scaring me!”

“Okay, you two go wait in the car,” the sheriff mumbled, waving Suzy’s mother and the little girl along.

He then put one of his big, beefy hands on my shoulder and pushed me into the cabin.

“Listen, mister, you’re scaring that little girl half to death and you need to tell me what the fuck is going on.” He spoke into my ear and his breath was hot on my face. “You on drugs? Doing a little meth to stay up all night and do your research?”

He gazed suspiciously around the room, the specimen jars full of bugs and mullosks, the beakers of sea water samples and glass slides. “Do I gotta go get a warrant from my old buddy Judge Johnson and come back here and search this place?”

“Am I on drugs?” I shouted. “Me? I saw you smoking a joint at that party!”

He laughed a hearty laugh and grinned a big shit eating smile. “Hell, son, that’s for my glaucoma. I’ve had medical marijuana for over fifteen years. Was one of the first people in the cove to get it. Everyone knows that.”

I was starting to feel dizzy, the room was beginning to slowly rotate.

“You alright, son? You don’t look so good.”

“But the fire on the beach. Did you check out the fire?”

“Yeah, I went down there. Looks like a bunch of kids was having a party, left fucking beer cans everywhere. But they’re gone now.”

“You went down? How?”

“How do you think? I walked.”

“You know about the secret trail?”

“Secret trail? Damn, you’re a dumb one, ain’t ‘ya? That fucking trail ain’t secret. Everybody knows about that fucking trail.”

I staggered back. The sheriff pulled out a chair and pushed me heavily into it.

“I saw it. I saw them kill her. Kill her and eat her heart.”

“You didn’t see nothing, son. Sometimes the light of the moon reflecting off the water, the sound and rhythm of the ocean, they can play tricks on your mind. Trust me, I’ve seen many a good man go a little crazy out here. Shelter Cove is known to have its share of crazies and they didn’t all start out that way.”

I sunk my face into my hands and shook my head.

“But, I… but, I…”

He put his big mitt of a hand on my back in a tender way, gave me a pat. “Tell you what, son. You get some rest. Sleep on it. I’ll come back tomorrow afternoon and we’ll talk again. Even take a little walk down to that beach. I’d like a walk with a scientist guy like you, maybe you can tell me what some of that weird looking shit in the tide pools is.”

How I fell asleep that night I don’t know. It was as if I had been drugged. I drank half a beer and a great lethargy fell over me and I stumbled to the bed with my eyes heavy and was asleep before my head hit the pillow.

That night the final dream came to me and I had the great realization. I was in the ocean, with all the other deep ones; the cool salty water swooshing in and out of our gills, the light of the moon sending out great shafts of pale light through the deep, murky water. Of course we were harvesting abalone. Eating some for our own strength, bringing back armfuls of others for the great one who slept out in the ocean depths: the dark lord who was awakening and who would soon rise in a fury of black leathery wings and tentacles.

The next day the sheriff arrived at my house as he said he would. He brought with him a box. I opened it to find a large, black, hooded cloak. I slipped the cloak over my head, pulled up the hood, and together we walked down to the beach to start the fire and await the arrival of the others.

Credit To – Humboldt Lycanthrope

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The Stairs Game

May 15, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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“It’s called the stairs game.”

“The stairs game?”

“That’s the only thing we were able to get her to say, the parents will be here in about an hour they caught a red-eye back from Houston. Try to get something else out of her because we have to hold her until they get here anyway.”

“What do you think I’m going to be able to extract if you couldn’t get anything?”

“Well you’re younger, have less receding hair, and those pants aren’t tighter by regulation are they David?”

“Fuck you man.”

He actually smiled a little, despite being a dick I think he genuinely thought I might be better equipped aesthetically to get more information.

“Please try, you saw the coroner’s report. We can’t just tell the girl’s parents she played some stupid game.”

“I’ll try.”

“Good, I’ll get an ETA on the parents and check back in later.”

She still wasn’t looking at me directly, it’s like something would disappear or she would lose track of something were she to make eye contact.

“You’re saying a game killed your friend?”

She didn’t respond.

“Look, we know that you are in no way responsible for Sara’s death. That’s not what this is about, and I know discussing what happened to her with a complete stranger is not ideal. But if you know Sara you know Sara’s parents; they deserve to know what really happened to their daughter.”

“And I already said what happened.”

“Your official statement is too vague to be considered as a satisfactory explanation.”

“So you’re saying that I need to elaborate or there will be… complications?”

“Kelly, the only thing you told us was that she played the stairs game.”

“And that’s all I can tell you.”

“Kelly be reasonable…”

“Reasonable…?”

I didn’t say anything.

“Look I’m sorry. It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s that I can’t. I could be..”

“You could be what Kelly?”

“I’m sorry.”

He knocked on the glass and pointed to his watch, clearly I didn’t have much time left until the parents arrived.

“Kelly, we need to find a way to talk to each other. I want to be completely honest with you, Sara’s parents are about 15 minutes out. Even though we don’t consider you a suspect at all, we have to rationalize based on the limited evidence we’ve gathered. If you can’t shed more light on what happened tonight, it’s possible Sara’s parents could file charges that would indicate you as being an accessory in Sara’s death.”

“Give me your phone.”

“I’m sorry what?”

“I can…show you a video that kind of explains.”

“You’re telling me you can’t directly tell me what’s going on, but you can show me something on YouTube?”

“Do you want answers or not?”

Reluctantly, as I’d bought it literally the day before, I pulled the iPhone out of my pocket and handed it to her.

“Thanks. What’s the password for wifi here?”

“jUStice6683”

“Seriously?”

“I didn’t choose it.”

This was the first time her face warmed into an expression that matched her age; but only for as long as it took her to type with her thumbs.

“Before I show you this..”

“Yeah?”

“You have to realize I didn’t want any part in this.”

“Part in what exactly?”

“Yeah, that sounds bad.”

“Try to explain it?”

I tried to keep my eye contact friendly, but I was starting to think that it was possible that Kelly played a greater role in Sara’s death.

“It’s like being in a group project.”

I was noticeably confused by this statement.

“As an adult?”

“Jesus, no. Like in school. I never tried to stand out in school, it was never my thing. I was much more confident doing the work and having my name on it while someone else presented it to the class.”

“I think I get that.”

“Alright. But this is the bad version, I think it only really happens to you once academically. You go out of your way to make sure any sort of non-speaking portion of the project is well done. Historically asking someone else to do it allows your contribution to be seen and no heard.”

“That sounds pretty standard.”

“Yeah but there’s the one time it doesn’t work out. The person you’ve elected to explain your work gets it wrong. They’re indifferent because their only role is to briefly explain the work of someone else, someone smarter. So they goof off, and try to amuse your classmates instead of your teacher. At first, it’s not the worst thing really; quite in fact you almost feel like you’re getting to experience a popular glow by proxy. Like this dude who will grow up, just to grow up is somehow making you seem more appealing.”

“What does this have to do with…”

“HI I’M JASMINE JOLLY KILL AND YOU’RE WATCHING THE SCARRRRRRRRRRRRRY STORY COUNTDOWN ON MY CHANNEL…”

She paused the video.

“What I’m getting at is that you never asked to for that glow, or the subsequent disapproving glances from the teacher who liked you because you weren’t interested in that glow until he started talking. It’s the feeling of being tarnished personified.”

We just sort of waited in silence for a few seconds, she was checking to make sure the clip was almost fully loaded.

“Sara was reckless. It wasn’t enough to be thin or happy or smart; she had to be that girl who wasn’t afraid. I don’t mean ‘I’m going to ride a motorcycle reckless’, on her 21st birthday she drove with a blindfold on for nearly a mile.”

“That’s fucking stup…”

I did not mean to let that slip out, but it got a laugh out of Kelly; the more I spoke to her the more concerned I became for her.

“No you’re right it is fucking stupid but that was Sara’s temperament.”

“I’m guessing you were the one who told her when to accelerate and stop?”

“All my life unfortunately. Some friend right?”

From a little ways away I heard the door to the main office slam. The parents would be briefed by the officer and asked to identify the body in the morgue. So this bought me about another 15 minutes; I would have to be the one to accelerate now.

“The stairs game.”

She shut her eyes and held them shut for nearly a minute.

“I’m really sorry but you did ask, I’m already losing 1 with you.”

“I don’t under…”

She hit play.

“Hey ghouls, gals, and geeks! It’s your girl Jasmine Jolly Killer here counting down what I think are some of the scariest creepypasta or internet urban legends I’ve found! Now for those of you who don’t know what creepypasta is it started out as online horror stories which were then “copied and pasted” into e-mails sent back and forth all across the world wide web. Some of the more notable characters from this collection of cyber horror are Slender Man, The Rake, and a lovable kids show called Candle Cove.”

She started scratching the black paint of her nails as I held my phone in my hand.

“Now I wanted to dig a little deeper for you guys because hey you’re my peeps and I need to hook you up with some hardcore horror stories or my reputation will be caput, haha. Now the first story I found is a little boring but bare with me because I still think it’s pretty damn spooky. Now a lot of creepypastas, and worthwhile stories in general, usually are built upon an object or location that when sought after by a protagonist, who whether noble or not, usually experiences something macabre as a result. My absolute new favorite is called…”

Kelly grabbed the phone out of my hand.

“Hey!”

“Sorry this girl talks FOREVER, I’m skipping to the…here.”

“Thanks.”

With the phone back in my hand I pressed play once more.

“I mean can you believe she would eat her boyfriend’s fingers without knowing?! Haha, I feel like I’ve been there. Do you feel me YouTube? Do you feel me? Alright, possibly what I found to be the most psychologically disturbing story that makes elevators way more appealing. The stairs game, as it’s called, is not really a “game” it’s more of a dare? Whatever. Essentially you need to be alone in your house, or I guess alone anywhere really as long as there’s some sort of staircase. It can’t be something with 4 or 7 steps it needs to be 11 steps or more or this won’t work. Now you need to place a candle on the very top step and the very bottom step, nothing specific so we’re talking some shit from Bath and Body or those weird Mexican divinity candles with like a picture of Mary on them. They have to be lit within the same minute, and the bottom one must be lit first. Now…”

My ringtone started playing, that annoying little Marimba standard tone. I still hadn’t figured this thing out fully.

“Will you excuse me for a minute?”

Kelly just sort of looked through me.

“Yeah I’ve got time.”

“Thanks.”

I stepped into the small hallway with the bench and water cooler.

“Babe, you can’t call me at work like this I’ve told you.”

“I’m…I’m sorry I know it’s just you weren’t here at 3:00 today and I got worried.”

“John we can’t keep doing this. It was a year ago and we weren’t even together.”

“No it’s..not that. Well it’s not totally that at least; look I’m sorry. I’m going to Whole Foods now is there anything you want to eat later?”

“Aside from you?”

He laughed on the other end.

“Make that pasta thing from the other day. That was really good, and if two pieces of cheesecake magically appear in your cart know that I will eat them both.”

“You’re ridiculous, but so am I for calling. I love you and I like you.”

“I love you and I like you too. Also I know you like all that horror stuff have you watched the YouTuber JasmineJollyKiller before?”

“Are you kidding me she’s like the queen of YouTube horror. I live for her weekly updates. She just reviewed “It Follows” a couple hours ago. But I don’t want to keep you, sorry for calling again I just…feel better when I hear your voice sometimes.”

“It’s mutual. Later babe.”

“Bye.”

I walked back into the room and Kelly had apparently gotten up to get water without me noticing.

“Wife?”

For some reason she was using a coffee stirrer in her water.

“Close, boyfriend.”

She looked up at me with sort of drunk Zooey Deschanel eyes.

“You’re gay?”

“Much to the disappointment of my father, yes.”

“How long have you and…”

“John. We actually just got back together recently we had some…”

She was listening more intently to me than I was to her 10 minutes ago.

“Problems?”

“Something like that.”

“You need to finish.”

“I’m sorry?”

“The video.”

I rolled my eyes.

“Of course I thought you meant…”

Her nails were all black now. The chipped paint from before the call somehow revived itself, strange. I tilted my phone and pressed play.

“Now, at the top of the stairs you need to write down the number of stairs you have but backwards. So like, if there were 14, you would write 41. Fold the sheet of paper twice and light one end with the top step candle then walk down counting the number of steps out loud. Blow out the piece of paper and the side that’s not burnt light with the bottom step candle. Have something you can put the burning paper in because it has to burn completely for this to work. Once you’re paper is ashes return to the top stair.”

Kelly was looking directly at the back of my phone like she was burning a hole into it.

“Once again, make sure you’re alone. I would never try this and obviously it’s not something real; but hey there are people out there that go out of their way to make it seem real. No matter what these are just stories guys, the steps are specific because they want it to seem like something important. It’s not real.”

Kelly laughed.

“What?”

“Why would someone go to that much trouble if it’s not real? What’s the purpose?”

“I guess..I guess people just want something more exciting out of life? Maybe they feel like their idea could evolve to the point where it was almost real.”

“What’s almost real, exactly?”

I didn’t even realize I had paused it again.

“Whatever, you’re almost done now.”

“Yeah I…guess.”

I pressed play one more time.

“I’ve only found one ‘interaction’, take this as more than likely fictional, in which a second person was present and the game got creepier. Now there are also about 100 more instances where having another person makes no difference, because once again this is some halloween slumber party bullshit haha. The so called interview with the ‘second person’ just sort of…”

The video screen went static and asked me to re-load the video. I clicked the small sad face and was able to reload it, but it seemed to skip past the part I was at.

“Once on the top stair, shut your eyes. Walk down five steps and then on the fifth step turn around and walk backwards down the remainder. The goal is to trip in this instance, as crazy as it sounds. It’s not listed in the rules but if you’ve done this correctly the last step should be missing. Now once you’re at the bottom of your less than one stair turn around but don’t open your eyes. Very carefully find the bottom step candle and blow it out. There are several variations but they all STRESS the rule that you cannot open your eyes before blowing out the bottom step candle.”

He knocked again on the door with more ferocity than before, like he was trying to get in more than get my attention. But I had 1:43 left.

“The idea is that there’s another you, a doppelgänger who will blow out the candle at the top of the stairs at the exact same time you blow out the bottom stair candle. That’s why you need to play this alone otherwise it’s hard to establish whether or not this “game” was a success. There was one variation I read in which they did the top stair instead of the bottom and the person was ‘pushed by something’ down the stairs. Not only injuring themselves but causing the bottom candle to spark some curtains and eventually a full fledge raging inferno. Did it happen? Probably not? But hey it sure is creepy right?

Now full disclosure I do NOT want you to attempt this but my friends at Cedar Night Scents have provided me a discount code for what they’re calling their “ritual candle collection”. Four candles, all made naturally and include a small description of the perfect “ritual” to use them for. I like them because they smell fucking good, but hey maybe you feel the intrinsic need to prove yourself or scare the hell out of your friends. The candle code is JJKILLER14 and gives you 30% off the regular price. Personally I’m loving the “white magic” candle and have bought about 3 since getting in contact so they have the Jasmine Jolly Killer seal of approval. Okayyyyy? Also I posted this story on Instagram earlier and I thought it would be fun to take some questions to see if I could find anything that resembles an answer so lets see the top 10!”

I looked at Kelly.

“Do I need to watch this part.”

“Oh, definitely.”

“Dear JJK, love that nickname haha, what happens if the candle at the top stays lit after the ritual? PS I love your smokey eye tutorial.

Well from what I can tell that’s what happens about 98% of the time, and honestly anyone that’s “stating” it’s blown out is probably lying. So I imagine nothing happens really.”

“Dear JJK, you never elaborated on what happens if someone is present while you play the game, what happens?! Love your videos and think you are the cutest.

Well thank you firstly! God knows I try to stay pretty. But…”

The video began to erratically jump.

“Haha, haha, haha. I guess…PRETTY PRETTY PRETTY. I love love 7 PEOPLE FOUND DEAD love love you all all all. Subscribe, like, follow ow ow ow and .. I guess I guess I guess I guess.”

“Is that it?”

Kelly was just staring off again.

“That’s about as far as you’ll get I imagine.”

“Okay, so I know a little more about the stairs game now. Can you connect the dots for me a little more?”

“I was only able to get about 3 minutes further into that video than you did. I think it’s because I’m here you can’t finish it, honestly.”

“Kelly that wouldn’t affect video in that way.”

She just shrugged.

“Maybe you’re right. Maybe I didn’t see my best friend blowing out a candle, and then see her again blowing out another candle at the same time. Maybe that thing didn’t walk slowly down those stairs towards the real Sara.”

I kept eye contact.

“I kept pulling her arm but she wouldn’t move, it was like she was rooted to the spot. I fell backwards as it bit into her bottom eyelid and ripped it downwards until her eye was barely dangling in it’s socket.”

I heard the banging on the door again.

“At one point I thought it was kissing her but it was just ripping her bottom lip off with it’s teeth. The last time I saw life in Sara’s eyes were seconds after. Her smile looked surreal. Unable to cover her bottom teeth as the skin flap hanging on by a few strands of skin and muscle.”

I suddenly had a coughing fit.

“Whatever it was it walked back up the stairs counting the steps in a voice that sounded like it came from every direction. That’s when I called 911.”

Once I got the cough under control, I reached out an held her hand.

“That wasn’t easy for you, and I know that. Thank you. It may seem arbitrary or dangerous to you but the information you gave me will be very helpful. Once again you’re not at fault at all and I’m going out of my way to…”

“Just stop.”

“What?”

“This thing…this game. Once you’re a part you, you start losing steps.”

The door suddenly slammed open, and Kelly was held by two men who held her in place. He came in with handcuffs and putting up no resistance Kelly complied.

“We were just discussing…”

“Parents got a look at the body, they’re pressing charges now.”

“Kelly I…”

“The more people you show, the more you’ll lose. I’m so sorry.”

“Kelly what does…”

The men were being excessively rough with her, one actually slamming her into a wall and punching her lower abdomen.

“FUCKING WATCH IT.”

I tried to follow as much as I could, but once they got to the stairs Kelly tripped on the second step flinging herself towards the the side. Kelly fell straight through the stairs. Falling all the way to the bottom, snapping her own neck in 3 places. The expression on her face almost looked like a grim relief, that face has since be etched into my brain.

It’s been nearly a week of dealing with both Sara’s and Kelly’s parents, mutual attorneys, fellow officers, security specialists, and even John. They all wanted to hear about how bizarre the case was, or how it was linked to other unexplained deaths that followed it. In most instances I would just send the same video Kelly showed me, it was the easiest way to explain the situation. But I only started sending it after I started tripping all the time. I don’t know how many people I actually spoke with regarding the case but after so many I started to get this panicked feeling. I live with John on the second story of our building, about 9 blocks from the precinct. There’s always been 23 steps from my door to the street but yesterday there was only 13.

Credit To – xcessiveknight

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Marie Thibodeaux

April 29, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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Marie Thibodeaux (1801-1881) was a remarkable woman. She was kind, intelligent, headstrong, and never once told a lie.

She was also a Voodoo High Priestess.

She lived her entire life in New Orleans, establishing a reputation from an early age as a potent healer and clairvoyant. People travelled for miles simply to visit her apothecary, although many more sampled her legendary concoctions. By the 1870’s, she had simultaneously become one of the most feared and revered figures in Louisiana.

In 1881, a landowner named Jacob Parrish travelled to New Orleans from Baton Rouge. Parrish was vastly wealthy and devoutly religious, but possessed a morbid fascination for the occult. He had hired a platoon of ex-soldiers from the recently concluded Civil War, and with them he marched down Bourbon Street and into Marie’s store.

Despite the protests of her assistants, Marie granted Parrish an audience. He had heard rumours that the great Voodoo Queen had discovered the secret to eternal life, and demanded that she yield it to him.

Never flustered, Marie corrected him: she had indeed discovered a ritual that would grant immortality, but only for a set period of time – fifty years, to be exact. Once performed, the subject would rise again after his natural death, having no need for food, air, or water, immune to disease, and utterly impervious to bodily harm. After fifty years had elapsed, however, the subject would die once more, never to rise again.

Frustrated by this revelation, Parrish nevertheless knew her by reputation to be an honest woman, and would not pass up the opportunity to live beyond his natural lifespan. Marie agreed to conduct the ritual for him, as long as he vowed to leave New Orleans permanently once it had been concluded. Parrish agreed, and the ritual was performed. True to his word, Parrish returned to Baton Rouge later that day – but not before ordering his mercenaries to murder Marie and her assistants and to burn her apothecary to the ground.

Louisiana folk are renowned for their superstitions, which are many and varied. It was unusual, however, that dozens would later swear that they had seen disembodied shadows making their way en masse up to the Parrish Manse that night. The following morning, the fifteen mercenaries were found with their necks snapped as though they had been twigs. Parrish himself was discovered in his bed, wide-eyed and apparently terror-stricken, his throat town out with such ferocity that the State Coroner was forced to conclude that a bear had somehow made its way into his locked, second-floor bedroom. The hints of black magic were not lost on locals, however, who promptly buried all sixteen bodies in Magnolia Cemetery the following day.

Marie Thibodeaux was a remarkable woman. She never told a lie, but that is not to say that she never withheld the truth. What she had not disclosed was that resurrection would not take place until seventy-two hours after death.

When Parrish’s grave was exhumed for relocation in 1953, puzzled excavators noted the singularly deep gouge marks found inside the coffin lid.

Credit To – September Derleth

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The Dentist’s Schedule

April 16, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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A friend of mine, Jon, had just opened his own law firm. By some miracle he managed to land a pretty big fish for a client. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t have the resources to really deal with the case. The lawsuit regarded a property management company and a strip mall occupied by several businesses some of which worked with the confidential documents of their customers.

The client claimed that the management company entered the property without permission, after hours and read or otherwise accessed sensitive information. They then used this information for various, nefarious purposes (that were never explained to me and probably never existed). My opinion of the whole thing was that some people were mad about the management company coming into their offices and thought they could get more money if the management company looked through their file cabinets.

Part of the review, aside from sifting through tens of thousands of emails and financial documents, was to review footage from surveillance cameras that the management company turned over to Jon as part of his discovery request. There was hundreds of hours of tape, and Jon could not possibly watch it all in time for trial (and still do the rest of his job).

Enter unemployed lawyer friends. Jon was fortunate to know me and four other unemployed lawyers and to have a client willing to pay them, (keep in mind, if the client could show the management company looked through one sensitive document it would be like hitting the jackpot when it came time for damages to be awarded). There were five offices with sensitive areas and the footage was broken up between the five of us (Jon did not participate in order to give us, his friends, some much needed cash infusion and to do his real job).

The period of time in which the claimed activity took place was during the night but not every office in the building closed at the same time. For example, the CPA that occupied Suite 3 kept his business open late January through April 15th to handle the excess work during tax season .

The way the cameras worked was that during normal business hours, (9 am to 7 pm), the cameras were shut off to save room on the storage device and to maintain privacy. After 7pm, they were activated only by motion sensors. The fact that some of the offices were open and the cameras were capturing potentially sensitive material was another aspect of the lawsuit.

The period of time for all video footage was approximately five years, but because it was such a limited amount of actual filming time for the cameras there was only a few hundred hours of footage. Each suite had three cameras and, in order to make it easier for me and the other reviewers to learn all the important players (and thus know who wasn’t supposed to be in the suite after hours) we were each assigned a suite.

I was assigned to Suite 5, the corner office in the strip. It was a medical office with a camera over reception, one in the examination room (which always seemed odd to me until someone told me how much the equipment there was worth) and one in the records room between the examination room and the reception area. The office was set up such that the reception was at the front of the building with a door leading out to the parking lot, behind it was a hallway with the records room and the examination room each opening to the left side. There was no camera in the hallway and, besides the front door, the only exit was a fire door at the back of the hallway.

Why was this job so terribly boring if the camera only came on when there was movement, you ask? Well, the extremely intelligent and hard working receptionist who worked in Suite 5 loved celebrating holidays. She would do so by hanging things from the drop ceiling on paperclip hooks and strings. She had one for every holiday to decorate her area in reception, hearts for valentines day, witches for halloween, etc. etc. These decorations would flutter slightly when the air conditioner or the heat turned on and activate the cameras (usually for about forty-five minutes to an hour).

Hence, I spent most of my time staring at a screen where literally nothing was happening. The worst part was I couldn’t just fast forward through the tape. On the off chance that something did happen and I missed it, it would totally screw my friend (who was essentially paying my rent by giving me this job). So I sat and watched hour after hour.

It wasn’t always boring. Stuff did happen. A fire alarm went off in the building and firemen came in to mess with something in the reception area. Another time there was a mouse, which took me five or six views to figure out what the motion was, so that was exciting. But that was pretty much the first two years of the office’s recordings.

The strange stuff didn’t start happening until October of the third year. On the face of it,what I saw wasn’t really all the strange at first. The witch decoration was up again, a black silhouette of a woman in a pointed hat riding a broom. I figured it was this that activated the camera until I noticed the doctor.

He was a middle aged man, about fifty or sixty if I had to guess, lank and tall with a bald pate that reflected the fluorescent lights and was ringed by sparse white hair. It was difficult to see his face well from the angle of the camera behind the reception desk, but I did notice he wore glasses and had a pushbroom mustache.

He strolled in the front door, quite casually, tossed his coat on the chair behind the reception desk and put on his white coat. I assumed this was a late night appointment (late night being 9 pm in this case). Sure enough, after about fifteen minutes a woman arrived. She was younger than the doctor by perhaps a decade and dressed in a pantsuit over which she wore a trenchcoat. The coat was wet at the shoulders presumably due to rain.

The doctor hung up her coat and led her into the examination room. There she sat on the examination chair and the doctor began to clean her teeth. I remember thinking there was something odd about the chair, but not really being able to put my finger on it. Two things occurred during this episode that I probably should have found odd. First, there was no hygienist (something that would change in future late night examinations). Every time I went to the dentist, no matter how small of a practice, the hygienist was the person who cleaned my teeth.

The second thing was sinister and, I must admit, I didn’t pick up on it until future viewings, when I was already keyed in to look for odd happenings. The doctor, who was seated on a low stool as he worked in the woman’s mouth, continually rubbed the crotch of his pants. Aside from being super unhygienic, this was highly inappropriate. However, because the stool was low and the woman was facing the ceiling (not to mention the fact that she had the bright examination light in her face) she didn’t seem to notice anything amiss.

After the examination and cleaning was complete he ushered the woman out of the office. It took him longer than it should have to return to the examination room. I didn’t even notice this on the first or even the second viewing, but I wonder what he did in that short time. I think, but don’t know for sure, that he let someone in through the back door. And I think, but don’t know for sure, that that person stood at the doorway to the exam room watching.

He returned to the examination room and cleaned up the implements and equipment. It was while he was doing this that I first noticed something strange about the doctor. While carefully removing his tools, he paused on the dental explorer (that hook shaped metal instrument dentist use to poke around in your teeth). He held it very close to his face, his eyes closed and seemed to be smelling it. On future viewings I would notice that he was again rubbing the crotch of his pants.

I made a note of the incident in my ledger (part of the job was making notes for my buddy to refer to) but didn’t really think much of it. I continued to watch hour after hour of video. Not much happened for the next several months other than the occasional fluttering decoration. That changed on a night in December.

It was December 6th at 10:59 pm according to the time stamp on the video and a paper snowflake hung from the ceiling. Again the dentist came in through reception, this time wearing a thick parka. After removing his coat, he retired to the examination room carrying a briefcase.

Shortly thereafter, another person entered. She too was wrapped in a thick parka and had a scarf wound around her face. At first I thought this must be the patient, but as she removed her coat I saw that she wore scrubs. She moved out of sight and only reappeared in the examination room sitting on a stool across the examination chair from the doctor. Unlike the doctor she wore both gloves and a surgical mask. They did not appeared to speak with one another.

I watched with some interest as the doctor removed from the case several familiar instruments. There was a dental explorer, one of those small mirrors on the end of a thin handle used for examining inside the mouth, and a mechanical instrument attached to a power source. I would later learn that this was both a drill and a cleaning device depending upon which head was attached to the end. His assistant never spoke during this time, instead she sat by and stared across the room motionless, as if in a daze.

He placed the instruments on a small, metal table next to the examination chair. And then nothing. For thirty minutes he just looked at the tools laid out in front of him. Although there was no sound on the tape, I could see by the rapid rise and fall of his shoulders that the doctor was breathing heavily. His hands were folded neatly on his lap, his feet were planted on the floor on either side of the small stool he sat upon.

I was as transfixed with the doctor’s trancelike state as he appeared to be with the instruments laid out before him. Seconds ticked by, turning into minutes, after thirty or so minutes had passed a patient opened the front door. It was a young woman, much younger than the last patient. She poked her head into the suite and appeared to call out.

The doctor, shaken from his daze stood and hurried to the reception area. He met the patient there. As she removed her coat I was surprised to see the timestamp now read 11:36 pm. The woman was oddly dressed. She wore a uniform that I can only describe as that of a candy striper at a hospital, a white dress with red pinstriped apron over it. She couldn’t have been older than twenty and may well have been much younger.

In the back room, the examination was infinitely more bizarre than the previous one. The girl took a seat in the chair, she seemed nervous, her hands clenched into tight fists at her side, she bit her lower lip. As the assistant affixed a green paper bib around the woman’s neck, the doctor placed a hand on her bicep. It may have been meant to comfort the girl, but his touch lingered so long that it seemed somehow inappropriate.

The girl laid back in the chair and appeared to relax, though I sensed an air of anxiety about her. As I watched him work, I remembered a statistic I’d heard about dentists having a high suicide rate. It didn’t surprise me. The job seemed tedious (and this is coming from a guy who spends his days staring at paper witches floating in the A/C breeze).

He continued to work slowly and methodically, dental explorer, mirror, waterpik, mirror, waterpik, dental explorer. All the while the girl lay on the chair breathing heavily. The doctor, as he cleaned the woman’s teeth leaned closer and closer, until his face was mere inches from the girl. I noted that he was breathing heavily and would occasionally lick his lips. It was a hungry, needful expression. There was no reaction whatsoever from the assistance.

I was watching this examination especially closely. Not only was it utterly bizarre, but it was also one of the few instances of something interesting happening in the hours and hours of video I had watched. I would come back to this video several times in the coming weeks, but it would never affect me the same way again.

In that first viewing I noticed two things that caused the hair on the back of my neck to stand on end and my throat to tighten with fear. First, I saw the dentist place the palm of his left hand on the girl’s stomach. This action was so inappropriate, given the girls age, it made me shiver. Then, I noticed something else. Although she hadn’t flinched, nor tightened, nor shown any indication that she was in pain, the young woman was crying. Tears rolled down her cheeks in steady streams.

I noted too the way the assistant behaved. She was interested, her body language led me to believe there was no distaste or fear at the dentist’s action. She even joined the doctor in leaning closer. A few strands of lanky, gray hair fell loose from the bun of hair atop her head and dangled against the young woman’s cheek as she cried.

After the examination the woman briskly exited the office. The assistance was not long behind her, exiting the examination room and reappearing in reception. She was once again bundled against the cold, her scarf trailing behind her . The dentist, meanwhile, cleaned his instruments. This time he relished the cleaning, his fingers played over the tools. He rubbed the various implements across his face and even lips. It was during this odd ritual that I noticed the man rubbing himself.

The cleaning had taken him a little less than an hour but the actions with the tools took him twice as long. It was very early in the morning when the man finally left, taking with him the briefcase.

I made a detailed note of the incident in my log book. I also considered calling Jon. In fairness he had a right to know about this strange incident, however, it was his client so it didn’t really help him to know about it. Additionally, it didn’t seem that bad. Sure the dentist had put his hand on the girl’s stomach, but it wasn’t like he was ripping her clothes off. And yeah, the girl had cried, but I’m sure lots of people cry at the dentist’s. Maybe that wasn’t it, maybe I just wanted to keep it to myself because it was so interesting, if not completely disturbing.

The grind of my video review went on after that, but I always kept a sharp eye out for the dentist. He was back several times in the ensuing days. Once he cleaned the teeth of a man in his seventies. The appointment began at 8:45 pm and concluded less than an hour later. All was normal except the way he held the man’s head, running his fingers over the bald scalp. It was during this encounter that I noted the dentist did not wear gloves, something else that made me shudder. I thought I noticed a shadow near the doorway to the examination room, but it could have been my imagination.

I wondered about the assistant quite a bit during these days. What did she know about the dentist’s activities. Apart from the woman crying and the dentist’s hand on the woman’s stomach, she wasn’t present for any of the stranger things. But is it possible to work closely with someone and not know this was happening?

The next significant event occurred in June. The tape began at 2:13 am. The office was completely dark but for the light from the parking lot outside filtering between the closed blinds. I knew something was afoot because June was the one month of the year when the receptionist didn’t hang any decorations, but at first I didn’t see anything of interest on the screen.

Seconds ticked by without anything. The tape shut off. I was about to rewind when the next segment of video began, it was 2:15 am, same date. The door was just closing, but something was different in the reception area. It took me a moment to pick it up but I realized there was a small shadow near the door, as if someone had dropped something off and let the door swing shut behind them.

The tape shut off again, this time for less than a minute. When it came back on the dentist was standing in the doorway with his brief case. He flicked on the lights and I was able to identify the shadow. It was a small, metal canister, like a scuba diver’s oxygen tank, on a wheeled cart. Attached to the top was a small hose with a triangular shaped cup on it. I recognized it as a Nitrous Oxide container, with an attachment designed to fit over the nose of the patient.

The doctor took his briefcase and NO2 to the examination room, donned his white coat and began to set out his instruments. There was no long interlude as in previous experiences, before the patient arrived. It was a woman in her mid thirties. She had a severe face and graying brown hair pulled up into a tight bun, perched precariously close to the end of her thin, blade-like nose was a pair of cat’s eyes glasses.

She didn’t wait for the dentist to come greet her but immediately disappeared behind reception only to appear a moment late in the examination room. The doctor’s greeting was met with a curt nod. She took her place on the examination chair and the work began.

I wondered what type of woman required dental work to be done at nearly 3 am. I had long since ceased wondering what type of dentist would accommodate such a strange request, this particular doctor was the definition of strange.

I noted that this visit was different than the previous ones I’d witnessed. This one started with the doctor placing the NO2 cup over the woman’s nose. The stern look on her face faded, relaxed by degrees with each rise and fall of her chest. As the woman slipped down into unconsciousness I noted the doctor’s excitement rise. He licked his lips and rubbed his hands greedily together.

There were new implements this time as well, strange metal devices whose purpose I couldn’t decipher until they were put into use. The first looked like a cross between a wire hanger and a muzzle. He inserted this into the woman’s mouth and fiddled with something on the side, effectively locking her mouth open.

Next he attached something to the electric device. I couldn’t tell what it was at first, but had I heard it, I’m sure I could have identified it immediately. It was a dental drill. He held it before his eyes, presumably watching it spin and listening to the sickening sound it made. His attention was focused on the drill so sharply, it seemed as if he was unaware anyone else was in the room.

But eventually, he leaned forward over the patient and began to apply the drill to her mouth. More so than ever before, the dentist was excited, to the brink of mania it seemed. He leaned ever closer to the woman, his hand gripping her shoulder so hard his knuckles were white. Leaning this way and that, he ground away with the drill.

After shifting his stool about, the dentist grabbed the woman’s forehead and tilted her head back into what looked like a very uncomfortable position. His head leaned so close that his face was practically touching hers. Frustrated, he slammed the woman’s head back into the chair. He placed the drill on the table. I was completely shocked when the dentist, in a state of frenzy, climbed upon the chair, straddling the woman’s chest.

Now, his legs on either side of the woman in what I would describe as a lewd position, he relished at the drilling. He leaned in close to her mouth, his breath was coming in mad hitching gasps. When he leaned back I could see that his eyes were alight with intensity. It seemed to take forever. My mind dredged up the sound of the drill and the smell of teeth being ground into powder.

An eternity later and it was finished. The time stamp read 3:42 am. I can’t even imagine how much of the woman’s tooth was devoured by the drill. It must have been quite a bit though, considering how long she lay there.

After drilling, he climbed off of the woman and took a seat in the stool again. The process of filling it was surprisingly short. The dentist seemed to have little interest in that aspect of his work and slopped the filling material in haphazardly.

I continued my review of the tapes. Time passed without much of note, but always I struggled with the essential question: When do I tell Jon? That I would have to tell him eventually was obvious. But, at the same time, I hoped that the videos would somehow reveal an explanation to all the madness.

A year’s worth of video passed; a red, white and blue star stirred on the breeze for thirty minutes, the paper witch fluttered through the air, a turkey, a christmas tree, a heart, a clover, all made their brief appearances. But no doctor, no patient, no assistant. I wondered if it had all been some mistake or maybe the dentist had been arrested for his insane drilling episode.

September 28, the timestamp read 12:01 am, in walked the doctor accompanied again by his assistant. Behind him he wheeled his NO2 container and in his hand he carried his briefcase. The assistant wore a light jacket and had a scarf once again wrapped around her face. I thought it must have been a cold night, though the doctor wore only a sports coat.

The familiar ritual was repeated. The doctor donned his white coat and disappeared into the hallway, reappearing in the examination room a moment later. The assistant vanished into the area behind reception for a much longer time, coming into the examination room only once she was garbed in scrubs, gloves and a surgical mask.

The person that came in was a man, about my age with a thick beard. On his head was a baseball cap partially obscuring my view of his face. He hesitated by the door and then called out. In the back room the dentists head whipped around toward the door and he grinned. He must have also called out because the man in reception made his way toward the exam room.

I could tell by the guy’s body language that he was nervous. Under normal circumstances this would have been perfectly normal, but given what I knew about the doctor it seemed even more appropriate. I wish I could have yelled at the guy to get out, but there was nothing I could do.

He took a seat in the chair, his feet fidgeting against the floor. The doctor exchanged some words with him but the assistant merely sat by looking out towards the door, saying nothing and seeming in a trance. The young man removed the cap and put it on the floor next to him. It was then that I realized I knew who it was.

I’d never seen Jon with a beard before, I never knew he wore facial hair at all. The tape was from a year or so before I met him, but once the cap was off I was sure it was him. He laid back in the chair and the dentist put the NO2 over his nose. I felt my stomach lurch with fear. The dentist’s eyes showed a type of lunatic glee, a mania more intense than I had ever seen. He wore on his face the grin of a madman.

He used the tool to prop Jon’s mouth open. This time, however, he did not go right about his work. Instead he seemed to savor the moment, running his fingers over Jon’s lips, resting his palm on Jon’s chest. He even stole a glance at the hygienist who continued to look on with a bored expression in her eyes. The dentist leaned his face close to Jon’s, his nose just over his mouth, and seemed to sniff Jon’s breath with some relish.

I hadn’t noticed at the time, as I was too distracted staring at the hygienist, but there was a new tool on the dentist’s table. I’m sure there exists a fancy medical term for the instrument, something efficient and scientific, but if there is I do not know it. The tool the dentist picked up can only be described as a pair of plyers.

Now the hygienist moved around to the head of the chair as the dentist stood and held the plyers up to the light, examining them carefully. She gripped Jon’s head between her gloved hands as the doctor leaned down and began to work the plyers into Jon’s mouth.

There was mania in the manner of the dentist’s work, a lewdness to the way his free hand rubbed up and down Jon’s chest. He would occasionally pause at his work to look up at the hygienist with a wanton, needful expression on his face. All the while she remained neutral.

The dentist’s work became more intense, he twisted and yanked with the plyers, at times hard enough to pull Jon’s head off the padded chair. The hygienist responded by holding him tighter, her hands curling into fists in Jon’s hair yanking him back down against the doctor’s forceful tugs.

The dentist threw his leg over Jon, straddling him as he had the previous patient. This time it was even more lewd, more grotesque as the man moved his hips ever so slightly. The hygienist’s eyes widen and she leaned over Jon’s head, until her face was close to the doctor’s. He leaned his own face towards her’s his lips puckered but then stopped short and pulled back. Instead, he pressed his lips to Jon’s forehead before giving one, final yank of the plyers.

Blood streamed down Jon’s chin to be wiped up by the hygienist. The dentist, in the meantime, held the bloody tooth up in front of his eyes, as if it were a trophy. His mouth hung open, his tongue lolling out to the side. He looked like a wild animal.

I paused the video, deciding that I could wait no longer to contact Jon. Did he have any idea what his dentist had done to him? He couldn’t have, he never would have let me review these tapes if he had even the slightest clue that this bizarre, invasive assault had taken place.

I punched his number and he picked up on the third ring. “Jon,” I began, “uh, how’s it going?”

“Fine. You?” he replied.

“Okay.” I didn’t know where to begin, how to start. “So, I’m working on this video review still,” I said.

He perked right up. “Did you see something good? Was VCH in there after hours?” VCH was the management company. I had almost forgotten about them.

“No, uh nothing yet. I have a question for you though.” I was staring at the paused video on my computer, it showed the dentist holding up the tooth to the light, a look of manic glee in his eyes as Jon bled in the background. “Did you ever go to this doctor?”

“Why would I?” he asked confused.

“Well, maybe you needed dental work,” I suggested.

“What are you talking about?” he asked. “There’s no dental office in the building. That’s an OB/GYN.”

I froze. The chair. I remember thinking that there was something weird about it. And when Jon told me it was an OB/GYN I realized just what that weirdness was. At the foot of the chair were two metal pieces. I noticed them right away but never really thought to question what they were for. Now it seemed obvious. They were stirrups.

I mumbled something to Jon about being confused and thanked him for his time. Turning back to the video I pressed play. The dentist lurched back into motion. He took several deep breaths his chest rising and falling. The hygienist too was panting, causing her mask to puff out and draw in against her face over and over again.

The dentist ran the bloody tooth over his lips, and the crimson blood made it look as though the man were wearing lipstick. He even ran his tongue over the tooth, cleaning the last bit of red from its surface. The hygienist was staring at the tooth, looking hungry and eager. The doctor smiled at her and nodded.

She dropped Jon’s head, which fell with a bounce against the chair. Reaching up to her face she slipped her fingers under the edges of the surgical mask and pulled it down. What it revealed was an unspeakable horror. Her mouth, if it had ever been something which could accurately describe as a mouth, was a ruined abomination. A mockery of the very core concept of a mouth. There were no lips, only a rotting hole of blackened, diseased flesh riddled with sores that weeped pus. This thing, this monster had no teeth, only black gums and bits of exposed, jagged jaw. Her tongue was a round, searching thing in the cavernous, unclosing mouth.

The dentist smiled at her, lovingly and held the tooth in the pliers next to the ghastly hole of this thing’s mouth. She looked eager, as a puppy looks when offered a treat. Her tongue shot out reaching for the tooth. After a moment of teasing the doctor dropped the tooth into the monster’s mouth where it disappeared forever.

What the dentist and hygienist did next was indescribably perverse, a horror that haunts me to this day. It took them the better part of an hour to complete. They straighten themselves up once their disgusting act was concluded. The hygienist monster thankfully put the mask back on and removed the NO2 from Jon’s nose. He got up, groggy but seeming to be of his right mind, and left. The dentist and hygienist followed soon after.

I was so disturbed by this, so frightened that I spent the rest of the day sitting in my chair in front of my computer staring blankly into space. I still had another six hours of video to watch but I was too anxious to continue. I decided I should learn some more about this place and the other people in the video before I watched any more.

I discovered that the office actually belonged to a woman named Dr. Svetlana Yagnenok, M.D. She’d been working there for more than a decade and never had a partner, nor did she ever rent the office out to any other doctors (especially not dentists). It was impossible to figure out who the dentist was as I had no idea what his name was, but it occurred to me that perhaps the patients worked in the same strip mall.

I decided to contact the other document reviewers. The first person I reached out to was a friend of Jon’s who was a homemaker with a law degree. I asked if she could meet up with me for coffee so I could ask her about the review. She agreed to meet me the next day. I printed out the best pictures I could of the patients and brought one of the dentist too just in case.

It was pointless. My heart nearly stopped when I walked in the cafe, the woman I was there to meet was all too familiar. She was the first patient. I asked if she’d ever frequented any of the businesses at the strip mall and she assured me she hadn’t.

That wasn’t all. The candy striper, the old man, the librarian, they were the other reviewers. From what they told me, none of them had ever been to the strip mall before. None of them knew anything about a dentist, nor had anything strange been on the tapes they were reviewing.

I was even more horrified by what I found on the last six hours of tape. December of last year, timestamped at 1:15 am. The doctor and hygienist arrived and repeated their normal routine (if anything the horrorshow duo did could be called routine). The hygienist seemed different this time, more hungry, more eager. After a time the door opened and a young man walked in.

I poked my tongue around and confirm what the video had just revealed. I was missing two molars, the same two the dentist ripped from my mouth to feed the horrid woman. The worst part is, I could almost still taste the slimy flavor of her mouth as I watched the video of her kissing me.

Credit To – Louis Nattick

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