A Sailor Without Two Coins

October 9, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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Many a sailor, no matter how brave and fearless, knows well how unpredictable and deadly the sea can be. Before every setting of the sails, a prayer goes throughout the crew, praying to God for the safety of their voyage. A wise man knows that prayers are not always answered and many a man has traveled to the briny depths of the sea, never to be seen again. Some men say though, they have managed to cheat death in those moments with a ritual that may not be worth living for later.

The ritual is fairly simple, but not one that one wants to use unless they are in mortal peril and know it. Providing that they are not sinking fast enough in the water to choke their words, a man must repeat the words, “Devil take my soul across the Styx, God has abandoned me,” three times at the top of his lungs. If he truly puts himself and his soul into it, the Ferryman shall come, no matter how much the waves rage and toss. His ship shall not be turned, nor shall he capsize. The man shall feel his wrist grabbed and be pulled into the boat. From there, he will not feel the waves rocking him. He will feel no hunger, no thirst, only the breath in his lungs and the wind blow softly across his wet face.
It is important that the man does not look up into his eyes. This is because calling him out is a trick. You see, the Ferryman will not take a soul across the Styx without payment. He will hear him speak, asking for payment. When he asks, he must proclaim that he is without payment and needs to go get it from home. The Ferryman will then begin to row to the sailor’s home shore.

He cannot look at him at all the entire way. If it takes three days and three nights, it will not matter. This is because if the Ferryman looks into your eyes, he will know you are lying and return you to the waters to drown.

When you finally reach the shore, the sailor must thank him and tell him he will return shortly. The sailor can never return to the sea after this. The Ferryman will never come to the shore to collect, only be there by the water, awaiting his payment. If a sailor ever does set foot on a boat again, he and all the men on it shall perish in a violent and destructive manner.

Be warned though. One cannot outrun the Ferryman forever. I know a man who is in his last years and fears closing his eyes at night, lest he pass from this world and his soul meet the Ferryman once more. He feels the grip around his wrist tighter and tighter at night with each dream when he finally falls into sleep, and sees a monstrous face looking at him enraged.

No one truly cheats the Ferryman. He is simply far more patient than most realize.

Credit To – AMD

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The Gift of Sight

October 8, 2014 at 12:00 PM
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Did you know that you can always see your nose, but your brain chooses to ignore it? The point is your brain can make you blind to certain aspects of reality. There is a way to see the things your brain ignores. Though, be warned, what has been seen cannot be unseen.

First, you will need a computer; tablets work just as well. After you find yourself a suitable device, you will need a location. It doesn’t have to be a special place, but medium sized houses or apartments work the best. The next thing you will have to do is close every single door in the location. This is why large abandoned buildings don’t work well. When at your chosen location, you must make sure you are completely alone.

Once you enter the chosen location, you can’t leave or you’ll have to start over at a different location. When you’re sure you’re alone and every door is closed, you can perform the next step. You have to wait. No matter what time you entered, you will have to wait exactly twenty four hours and then wait until two thirty in the morning. You don’t have to begin at two thirty, but the ritual will not work anytime before two thirty and after four forty five.

When you feel the time is right, choose a room to start the ritual. Go in and close the door behind you. Sit directly in the center of the room and make sure the door is directly behind your back. Finally, turn on your device. At this point, stopping the ritual will be impossible. There are some things you shouldn’t do:

1. DO NOT GET UP.
2. DO NOT LOOK AT ANYTHING BUT YOUR DEVICE.
3. DO NOT MAKE A SOUND.

As soon as your device is finished loading up, it will automatically go into your web browser and open up a website. The website is always random and is never the same for any two people. The website will only display a play button. You do not have to do anything because the video will play itself. The video does not have a length.

Images and words will appear. The words will not make any sense to you and will seem like gibberish. The images depend on you. Some people see violent depictions of war, some people see places they’ve never visited, some people see distant planets. No matter the subject of the first few images you see, the tone of the images will eventually take on a…darker tone.

No matter how disturbing the images become, you must not look away. Even as you hear the doors in the location opening and slamming shut. Even as you hear the door behind you opening, do not turn your gaze from your device. Act ignorant to your surroundings. Such ignorance will be the only barrier between you and the horrors you have allowed to reside with you.

After an undetermined amount of time, the images and words will stop and a live video feed will play. The video will show your location. The camera will approach the front door and enter. You will hear the front door open and close. Keep watching the feed. The camera will go throughout the building and every door the camera stops at will open.

As the camera makes its way to the room you are currently in, the hair on the back of your neck will stand up. Once again, the door behind you will open and you will feel a strong chill. Your hands will shake as the video shows your back. The video flash to a demonic caricature of your face.

At this point, your eyes will involuntarily shut and you will become immobilized. Footsteps will be heard approaching you. They will stop when they’re directly behind you. After a agonizing minute, you will feel a cold, bony, hand on your shoulder. You will hear a low, rumbling voice speak to you. It will say: “What do you desire most?”

This is a trick question and anything you say will cause you to be disemboweled and force fed your entrails. The only way to get out of this alive is to answer the question with this statement: “I want my eyes to be open.” If you have been sincere in your attempt at the ritual, your body will be under your control again and you will be able to open your eyes.

When you open your eyes, you will be in your bedroom. You won’t be able to remember the location where you performed the ritual, but that doesn’t matter anymore. What does matter will be clear to you when you look out a window; You will now be able see all that you weren’t able to before performing the ritual.

Every horror story you read or hear or see…all of them are somewhat based on truth. Although, the reality is much, much, more frightening. You will now be able to see it all. The stuff of nightmares. Creatures that your brain has been ignoring will be ever so clear. They are the things that go bump in the night. You will be able to tell who else can see. But this is a gift and a curse. They know you can see them now. They feed off your fear…and their hunger is never satisfied.

Credit To – UNIversial666

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Blood and Oil

October 7, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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Note: The following is a sequel to the creepypasta entitled “Breach”. The author recommends reading “Breach” first, as it is followed chronologically by the events described in “Blood and Oil.” Thank you!

In the last hour of her life, as she ran blindly through the forest that surrounded her, Amanda Conners wondered what she’d done to deserve such an awful fate.

She hadn’t been a perfect girl, god only knew. She’d been a rebellious spirit from her youth, growing ever more independent and angry with age. Amanda had fought her parents over almost every rule they’d laid down when she lived with them in Ann Arbor. It rarely mattered to her if they made sense or not. It was simply in her nature to fight, to squall with every ounce of energy her tiny frame could produce.

Her last words to them in person before moving to Southdale had been in anger. Amanda felt bad about that. They’d reconciled on the phone, but the guilt that lay uneasily on her heart when she thought about her meek father and hand-wringing mother just wouldn’t go away. She had hoped to apologize to them in person when she returned home after the coming fall semester. Maybe then they’d understand why she had to leave. Maybe then she would have found the courage to tell them how desperately she needed to live her own life.

Moving to Southdale, a small unincorporated township just outside Spring Valley, had been frightening for her. It was the first time she’d ever been alone, and despite having a job from a young age she found the idea of working for an employer she’d never met to be a little scary. Still, Angie’s Diner had been the only place hiring for miles, and it was only fifteen minutes away from the beautiful old country home that was renting at such an attractive price. Everything had seemed so perfect. She’d felt like the Universe was inviting her to jump out into the world and make her mark.

What Amanda didn’t know was that the Universe is a cold, cruel mistress. Like a spider it had snared her, tricking her into thinking that she would have a future like she’d always imagined. The howling of the mob that pursued her through the thick undergrowth was proof enough of that. Muffled by the leather masks they wore, that sound was the death scream of all her hopes and dreams.

Weeping in panic, she floundered blind through the dark woods, hands outstretched in front of her.”Somebody help me!” She screamed, senseless in her terror, tears and mascara running down her face in dark rivers. “Please, somebody help me!”

The dreams had started as soon as she’d arrived. She was always running in them, her bare feet tearing on a dark gravel road in the middle of a field. Amanda’s muscles ached as she pumped her arms, willing herself forward, her lungs burning. Her heart felt like it was about to explode in her chest. She was covered in blood and oil, completely naked. Every ounce of her was in agony, a pain so sharp it made her gasp.

There were others in the field around her, each of them also in flight. They were dying, one by one, falling to pieces in the flickering light that seemed to follow her no matter how much she ran into the darkness. A thick, choking fog was roiling up from behind them. The fog brought death with it, a massive, hulking shape that tore into them with harsh, barking snarls. They were screaming as they died, one by one, until it was only Amanda left, running down that endless road.

The giant in the smoke was coming for her. There was nothing she could do to stop it. It would catch her, and it would kill her.

She woke weeping every time, clutching her arms around herself like a mother cradling a child. Amanda didn’t understand the dreams. They were nonsense to her. She’d never seen a road like that in her life. She’d never seen such a field, with tall grass seeming to stretch on for an eternity.

In order to forget the terror that came to her every night, Amanda dedicated herself to her job. Angie’s Diner was the only restaurant in Southdale, and that meant she was worked to the bone every day she was there. The farmers and construction workers that stopped by were extremely courteous, quite different from the customers in the city where she’d grown up. Amanda quickly got used to being called “honey” and “sugar,” understanding that the men who called her that meant nothing by it. She appreciated it, and the generous tips they always left her. Despite the horror that came at night, during the day Amanda felt as though she was accepted and appreciated by the town she now called home.

She felt especially appreciated by Byrd. She couldn’t bring herself to call him Jack now, after all he’d done, but she remembered how she’d felt when he’d first waltzed into the diner. He was older than her, maybe by five or six years, but had such a boyish face that it had taken her some time to realize it. He’d moved with an easy grace and confidence that men her own age lacked, and it had been that which first attracted her so much to him.

He’d asked her out the second time he visited Angie’s. She’d blushed and said yes. He took her to the movie theater in Spring Valley, and on the way introduced her to several varieties of country music she’d never heard before. He laughed when she told him she’d never listened to Charlie Daniels or Willie Nelson. It wasn’t an unkind laugh. He wasn’t an unkind person, she didn’t think, even though he was one of the masked men shrieking in the woods behind her.

They’d started going out on a regular basis. Every day after work he’d pick her up and take her out somewhere new. Picnics down by the river, an afternoon in the park, a matinee, it didn’t matter. Byrd couldn’t get enough of her, and it felt so good to be wanted. He was her first serious boyfriend, and after only a month she was wondering if this was what love felt like.

He took her to meet his parents. They lived on a small farm at the very outskirts of the township, next to a great cornfield on the edge of a thickly overgrown forest. His father was tall and whippet thin; his mother, short and squat. They had been standing outside the house as they drove up in Byrd’s brand new pick up truck, eagerly waiting.

They were so excited to see her, it was like they couldn’t contain themselves. Mr. Byrd had embraced her, and then Mrs. Byrd, squeezing Amanda so tight it nearly drove the air from her lungs. The old woman was practically bouncing with joy.“Bless you child,” she kept saying, over and over. “We’re so happy to meet you. You can call me Mama Byrd, everyone around here does.”

She’d put her hand up to cup Amanda’s pale cheek, her rough palm grazing one of the scars on her face. They were still visible despite the heavy makeup she wore, and usually she felt extremely self concious about them. Here, though, Amanda felt only acceptance. When dinner was over they headed back to Byrd’s apartment. She’d fallen asleep in his arms as they watched TV. She woke the next morning, covered in a blanket, to the smell of him making breakfast for her.

Amanda paused for a moment to get her bearings, the torn wedding dress she wore trailing behind her. She spun frantically in place, trying to catch a glimpse of a break in the trees. They were swaying in time with the too-close beating of the drums, the black smoke rising from the fire in the clearing billowing high into the night sky. Beads of sweat ran down her neck and filthy arms. She heard the hooting and yelling get louder and started running again, heedless of where she was going.

Byrd had understood her desire to not be intimate. After a full month of him not asking she figured he’d soon start feeling frustrated. They’d done nothing but kiss. Amanda had never done anything but kiss, and she finally told him that abruptly after one of their dates. While she’d rejected most of her parents teachings, she planned on following through with her commitment to stay a virgin until she was married.

She’d expected Jack to be upset, or to argue with her just a little. Instead he just smiled, his sharp white teeth glinting in the light of the campfire.“God has some special plans for you,” he said. “I’m never going to force you to do anything you don’t want to.”

The squealing had started not long after that. She’d heard it coming from the field outside her house one night, initially thinking nothing of it. Amanda had seen feral pigs in the area, and knew that the boars would leave her alone as long as she stayed out of their way.

It became slightly more disconcerting when it started coming from her basement. She’d heard it as she read on the couch, a low snuffling followed by a high pitched whine. After a moment’s deliberation she’d called Byrd, and they’d investigated together. She said she saw hoofprints in the dusty cellar, but he’d laughed, kicked at them with the toe of his boot, and said she was imagining things.

Something heavy struck her from behind. She gasped, toppling forward, barely managing to catch herself. Amanda got back up, not daring to look back. It didn’t matter. Powerful hands gripped her waist. She bucked wildly, lashing out with small fists.

“We love you!” She smelled cheap aftershave and whisky as the man wrapped his arms around her. His leather masked pushed into her hips as they struggled. “Scars and all!”

Amanda’s free hand grasped at a rock on the ground. She swung it overhead, cracking it solidly on her attacker’s nose. He released her, moaning in pain, his pig-snout mask askew on his face as she clambered to her feet.

“He has such great plans for you,” he blubbered, reaching up to her as she turned and fled. “He loves you so much.”

Amanda ignored him and kept going as fast as she could. The forest seemed to be thinning out. That was a good sign. A second later she burst from the woodline, running headlong into the massive cornfield behind the Byrd’s house. She pushed her way blindly through the stalks, holding her dress up with one hand, hearing it tear again and again and not caring one bit.

Only a few short hours ago (though by now it seemed an eternity) Byrd had told her he had an extremely special night planned out. He’d swept her off her feet, taking her to the only Italian restaurant for twenty miles. He’d brought her back to his apartment after that, and played her a song on his guitar that he’d wrote specially for her. He told her that he loved her, in English, Spanish, French and even Japanese.

He’d also drugged the single glass of wine he’d offered her. Amanda passed out almost immediately after taking a few sips. She thought she remembered hearing Mama Byrd voicing approval, and had a vague sensation of soft lace being pulled over her face, but she’d been unable to regain consciousness.

Amanda finally awoke in the middle of the clearing, surrounded by dozens of people wearing robes the color of her flaming red hair and strange masks with upturned snouts. Her eyes widened in terror as she saw them falling down and wailing before a strange statue in front of a great bonfire, lifting their hands toward it and screaming for its blessing.

She was lying on a bed of cushions on the forest floor. They’d neglected to bind her in any fashion, not expecting the drugs to wear off as quickly as they had. As soon as she could she rose woozily to her feet and staggered away into the woods. After only a few minutes they had noticed she was gone and given pursuit, crashing through the forest behind her.

After another fevered minute of running she broke free of the cornfield. Her elation was short lived as she saw Mama Byrd and five other townspeople standing before her, between Amanda and the Byrd’s farm. The others all wore their masks, but Mama Byrd’s was pulled up onto her forehead. The doughy old woman had a pleading look on her face as she stepped forward, palms held placatingly toward Amanda.

“Please, sugar,” she said. “Please, we don’t mean you no harm. I know this must seem crazy-”

“Stay away from me!” Amanda shrieked, tripping over her dress and falling backwards to the ground.

“Nobody is tryin’ to hurt you,” the old woman said soothingly. “We wouldn’t dream of it, darlin’. You’re so precious to us, to him. All we’re trying to do is introduce you two, that’s all!”

Amanda struggled to her feet, screaming for help that she knew wasn’t coming.

“We waited so long for you,” Mama Byrd continued. “So, so long. Watching the signs, prayin’, hopin’ that the day would come when you’d arrive. And you did! You did. You were an outcast, just like he said you’d be, and you were beautiful and strong despite your scars, just like he said you’d be. You’re perfect, darlin.’ Absolutely perfect.”

They wouldn’t stop advancing. Amanda turned to run back into the cornfield and slammed headfirst into one of her pursuers. She went down again, seeing stars, the impact making her ears ring.

“Dammit Tony, you hurt the girl!” She heard Mama Byrd yell. “You better pray she’s alright!”

“I’m sorry ma’am,” the masked man, stooping over her and gently pulling her hands behind her back. She remembered his voice; she’d heard it every day in the diner. “I certainly meant you no harm.” Amanda felt cold metal circle her wrists, and heard a metallic click. “Are these on too tight, ma’am? I can loosen them a little if you’d like.”

She was too tired and too stunned to fight back. The big man lifted her gently, putting her over his shoulder, making sure her dress didn’t hike up and compromise her modesty. “No,” she wept quietly as they headed back into the forest “No, no, please. Let me go.”

None of them said anything as they walked slowly back to the clearing. When they reached it Amanda saw that those who had stayed behind had erected a small platform in front of the statue with a wooden beam rising from its center. It was there they gently put her on her feet, linking her handcuffs over her head to a wire restraint on the pole.

“Do you need water?” A familiar voice asked from next to the platform. Groggily she turned her head to see Jack standing there, his mask pulled up. “More wine?” He looked sad, as if he might suddenly burst into tears. “More wine might make all this easier.”

“Why are you doing this to me, Jack?” She croaked, her throat dry as tinder. “I thought you loved me. You said you loved me.”

“I do love you,” her betrayer said, having the nerve to actually start weeping. “I love you because he loves you, and I am his child. You are so perfect and precious. You will bring so much good into a world that needs it so desperately.”

“What are you talking about?” She whispered.

“We are all god’s children,” Jack said, his eyes burning with the conviction of a true believer. “The whole world. But we’ve strayed. We’ve strayed so far away, Amanda. The time is coming for a new flood, a different kind of deluge that will wash away the wicked and save the righteous. The sons and daughters of god will walk the earth again, as righteous judges of the entire planet.”

“What does that have to do with me?”

“Can’t you see?” He replied, his face shining, voice cracking. “You’re his bride. You’re going to be their mother.”

A sudden pounding of drums cut off the rest of his words. Amanda looked up to see the few remaining cultists emerge from the woodline. They began surrounding the statue and the bonfire, swaying back in forth in time with the music. They were chanting, bellowing words that made Amanda’s ears hurt.

For the first time she really looked at the statue, barely able to comprehend its bizarre shape. It was humanoid, but only roughly so. It was fifteen feet tall, standing on a pair of legs that appeared to be made of thick lead pipes. Its torso was a rapidly burning wicker cage, stuffed with dozens of eyeless dolls, dirty plates and melting silverware. Hundreds of cables and wires made up its arms, ending in massive shovel blades and rake heads for hands. It had no head, only a sharp three-pronged barb at the very top.

The drums increased in tempo, the townspeople that circled the idol beginning to sway faster and faster. A small break in the circle appealed as four robed figures came forward, carrying a litter on their shoulders. The drummers wailed, and the fire behind the idol suddenly grew hotter, making Amanda’s skin prickle.

The bearers reached the statue and lifted something from the litter. Amanda couldn’t see what it was. With their backs to her they climbed a small ladder going up the side of the edifice and raised whatever it was high. The cultists cried as one as they set it down on the spike, pushing down hard and twisting it into place.

Byrd was still weeping as the litter bearers climbed down. “Look,” he told Amanda, her mouth open in horror. “The face of God.”

It was a pig’s head, a massive, tusked boar that looked to have been killed quite recently. Crow feathers had been painstakingly sewn into it, giving it a mane of jet black feathers. Its wide maw was open, its teeth ripped out and replaced with rusted rail road spikes. A crown of barbed wire and rodent carcasses sat upon its head. The crest of the crown, forming a symbol that made Amanda’s eyes hurt to look at, was adorned with seven human skulls, their mouths wired open in a perpetual scream.

A hush fell over the clearing. The cultists fell to their knees, their hands silently lifting towards the statue. Byrd slipped away from her side, quickly taking his place among the rank of worshippers. One of the litter bearers stepped forward, standing directly before the great effigy.

“We call upon thee oh lord,” he shouted, his voice unmistakably that of Byrd’s father. “We call upon thee to enter our sinful world and make straight our paths! We offer you the blood of nonbelievers, and the blood of our conviction! “ He gestured with one hand behind him, towards where Amanda was bound. “Behold your pure Bride. We pray that we find favor in thy sight, even as she has. Walk amongst us, oh lord! Bless us with the thunder of your footsteps!”

There was a high-pitched wail that seemed to come from all around them. Amanda screamed as a bolt of lightning tore from the sky, crashing down into the idol. Byrd’s father was thrown to the ground, the light so bright it left all of them blinking. Amanda saw stars, the heat from the lightning strike so intense she felt as if her face was blistering.

She passed out for a moment. When she opened her eyes, blinking away the afterimage of the lightning strike, she saw something impossible happening to the idol. The lightning strike had set it completely ablaze. The fire climbed higher and higher over it, twisting around it like a snake. Amanda watched as it shuddered, creaking in a phantom wind that blew out of nowhere.

The fire reached the idol’s head, and the eyes of the pig blinked. The entire structure shuddered as a squealing roar tore out of its mouth, the crown of its head rattling wildly. The eyes blinked again, rolling around in their sockets. Its stout legs snapped backward, turning into the disjointed hind quarters of a ruminant. The wires around the arm seemed to tense and bulge as black, burned flesh covered the skeletal wires. Its massive claws grew longer and more slender, ending in stiletto-sharp points that curled and flexed.

It stepped out of the fire, shaking bits of debris off its hulking form with another roar. Its feet were massive hooves that left smoldering prints in the dead grass; prints that looked all too familiar to Amanda. Another bolt of lightning split the sky, the thunderclap drowning out the fevered praise of the cultists. They prostrated themselves on the ground, babbling mindless prophecies and rending their clothes. They cut themselves with knives and hooks, falling upon one another in violent ecstasy.

“Behold the Pig!” Byrd screamed, suddenly rushing forward to stand beside his father. “Behold the Pig that takes away the sins of the-”

His words were cut short as it reached down and grasped him in a massive eight-fingered hand. He didn’t have time to react before it lifted him to its mouth, opening its maw with a screech of tortured metal and snapping sutures. It slammed its rotted teeth down around his hips, shaking its head back and forth, ripping him in half in an instant. It shoved the rest of Amanda’s boyfriend down her throat and swallowed hungrily.

The Pig stalked towards Amanda as Byrd’s father cut his own throat at its feet. It moved with an unsteady gait, occasionally dragging one of its legs as if not quite used to gravity. She wept at its approach, desperately trying to wake herself from the nightmare. It towered over her, blotting out the night sky. The seven skulls in the crest of its crown were screaming, rattling out words forced upon them by a savage power not seen on earth since the days of the bubonic plague.

The skulls told her of her destiny, of the future that was approaching. She saw it all in her mind’s eye: what the Pig intended for her, the horrific union of mortal and god, the months of torturous gestation as monsters grew within her body and soul. Amanda saw the fruits of her womb, a dozen blasphemous half-deities that devoured Human cities in the form of plague and genocide. Millions would die. Humanity would burn in the fires of a new dark age, never knowing that the savagery inflicted upon it came at the hands of a demon-god’s children.

It stepped towards her limp form, its claws reaching down to roughly grip her arms. It delicately severed her handcuffs, lifting it slowly up towards her. As she stared at it, unable to move, unable to even utter a plea for mercy, the skulls leered down and told her the identity of her tormentor.

In that moment, as its name thundered inside her mind, several things happened to her all at once.

There was a flash of light so bright it made the lightning pale in comparison. It was enough to be noticed by air traffic controllers nearly a hundred miles away, and caused temporary blackouts in all surrounding cities. The Pig was at the epicenter of it. It dropped Amanda to the ground, squealing as it backed away, raising its hands to its singed face.

The woman who was Amanda Conners died in a heartbeat, the name of the monster triggering a thousand hidden memories deep in the very darkest recesses of her mind. Her mother and father, her high school years, everything about her life before Southdale, was wiped away like the flimsy falsehood it was. She remembered the truth. She remembered

sitting with her arms crossed in the briefing room, staring at the holographic image of the target. “PE I-X-889 will be far too canny for any other approach,” she said, brushing a strand of blood-red hair out of her face. “Any attempt at psychic infiltration will likely be noticed immediately. It’s waited nearly seven centuries to attempt a return to reality. If it has any idea at all that this is a trap, it’ll turn tail and run back into the aether and likely try and come up on the other side of the planet. We’re lucky it chose a crossing in North America at all; if it runs we’ll never have another shot at it.”

Dolos sighed, running spindly fingers through graying hair. “So conventional means of infiltration are out of the question. That doesn’t change the fact that we need to lure this thing into reality to take a shot at it. What are you proposing?”

“Simple. Use me as bait.” She let it sink in for a moment before continuing. “Lock away my memories. Create a completely new history, a life story that will make me exactly what we know this thing is looking for in a mate. Make me weak and vulnerable and damaged. Even if this thing scours my mind, it’ll only find the fake memories we’ve planted there. A standard hypnotic trigger will suffice to bring down the barriers we put in place once the time comes for action.”

“It’d have to be a very specific trigger,” Dolos said thoughtfully. “If you remember too soon, it’ll sense your awareness and your cover will be blown.”

“We know from the PE’s we’ve interrogated that this thing is arrogant,” she said. “We’ve heard it screaming its name in the aether ever since it came into the shallows six months ago. It’s been a long time since 889 walked the earth, and I’m certain it will want to make its presence known to its bride. Make its name my trigger. As soon as I hear it, I’ll be ready.”

The woman that had been Amanda Conners a moment before levitated in the air, borne on the burning winds of damnation. Her eyes glowed an electric blue, hellish red light issuing from her open mouth. She howled into the aether, calling out to a presence that waited patiently for her hundreds of miles away. It answered her call, thundering out her name as it raced towards her via translocation. The cultists echoed its cry, gripped by the terrifying power she unleashed, wailing in agony as they tore themselves to pieces in psychic shock.

BELLONA! BELLONA! BELLONA!

A hole in reality opened up behind her, a vortex into worlds only ever seen by prophets and madmen. The Pig took another step back, its ancient mind racing feverishly to understand what was happening. Never before had it encountered such resistance. Never before had it seen its sacrifices rise up with such anger and power.

Something massive came stomping out of the aether; a jet black construct five meters tall, its breastplate opened like a set of titanium petals. Tortured ghosts trailed from it in long, frozen tendrils, lesser spirits that had been caught in the wake of the behemoth. It stooped low, its massive arms reaching down to gracefully catch the tiny woman before it up into its chest.

Bellona stood, a smoky-eyed goddess of war in armor that shone in the brilliant light of the fire. Needles punctured the skin of her back in a hundred places, slamming into her spine and brain stem. Her body spasmed, the arms and legs of the armor reflecting her every motion. The Aegis was glad to see her; she could sense it in every relay, every system scan, every tactical readout that flooded her brain.

The dispersal cannon on her left shoulder hummed into life, the missile rack on her right immediately locking onto the target. Dozens of laser-guided munition systems highlighted the Pig in every energy spectrum known to exist, paving the way for the high-energy laser batteries stacked onto her wrists. She clenched her fists, allowing meter-long blades made of silver and cold-forged tungsten to snap from their sheaths between her knuckles.

Bellona sensed the Pig’s confusion. With a single thought she seared an image into its inhuman mind. She showed it a burning sword, raised in defiance of all gods old and new, blazing eternally against a darkness whose time had finally come to end.

The long night is over. Dawn approaches, and I am its herald.

The Pig seemed to finally understand what was happening to it. It took a step forward, its skulls chanting blasphemous prayers to beings even more loathsome than it. Bellona grinned, baring her teeth. The trap was sprung. The enemy was before her. The Aegis’ thirst for blood and war mingled with her own, sending out murderous pulses of psychic energy that set the trees on fire.

“Alright, you bastard. You wanted me,” she snarled, her visor slamming shut. “Come and get me.”

Walking through the blackened remains of the forest, John Hauser slowly made his way to the center of the clearing. His heavy black boots sent small ripples through the pools of blood still covering the ground. The charred remains of the trees were covered in the stuff, sticking to his hands as he pushed his way forward.

The cleaners were hard at work, each of them outfitted in bulky biohazard suits built to protect their mortal frames. While the bodies of the cultists had all been removed by the time he had arrived, he could still see the fire close by where the lingering remains of PE I-X-889 continued to burn. It would take several hours of continually purging and salting the fields to erase the beast’s presence.

This was one of the most important jobs of the cleaners; to completely remove any lingering trace of supernatural taint from a region. To do otherwise meant running the risk of the location becoming a confluence for supernatural activity. Hauser remembered many dark days in the early years of his organization when they had learned that the hard way.

Lies and half-truths were already being spun up about what caused the disaster. In an era of uncertainty, Hauser’s superiors had quickly decided that terrorism would be best to blame for the death of fifty-five members of a three-hundred person town. Already corpses with Middle-Eastern features were being flash cloned and deposited in strategic locations at ground zero. A few citizens in the town proper had heard the violent battle between Bellona and the Pig, but none had come to investigate. There’d be no reason for them to disbelieve the story that several of their fellow townspeople had been rounded up and then blown to pieces by a group of highly-trained Islamic suicide bombers (quite probably hailing from Pakistan, as Hauser’s men would suggest through a variety of carefully hidden clues)

Hauser wasn’t worried about the press or the government taking too close a look. Individuals loyal to his organization had already begun exerting their influence. Homeland Security would think that the FBI had things well in hand, while the FBI would receive word that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms would be taking control based on the terrorists utilizing weapons purchased in the States. There would be power struggles with the local police and sheriff’s office. All organizations would receive word that biohazard teams from the CDC had gone to the site in order to quarantine for a possible anthrax threat, but upon further investigation it would be discovered that the CDC had never sent such a release to anyone, and that it had been mere hearsay working its way through the various departments. It’d be extremely embarrasing for all involved, and more importantly, would give Hauser’s team a full twenty four hours to complete their work. By the time someone actually got on the scene, they’d all be long gone.

As he finally reached the edge of the clearing, he saw the massive frame of Bellona’s Aegis standing protectively over the girl. The suit was almost completely out of power, but he could sense a lingering consciousness in the Veil hovering near it. The construct was prepared to protect the tiny figure sitting at its feet, staring into the fire as she meditated. Not for the first time Hauser was highly impressed with the latest prototype. The men and women in engineering had done an excellent job.

“I was wondering when you’d get here,” she said, still gazing at the witchfire that consumed the Pig’s corpse. “I sensed your arrival as you translocated.”

“I’d hoped to arrive in enough time to prevent such damage from occurring,” he smiled, repeating the words she’d once spoken to him as he fished a cigarette out of the pack. “Would you like one?”

Bellona didn’t answer. Hauser shrugged and lit up, the acrid tang of the smoke a welcome relief from the smell of charred flesh and corruption.

“I had dreams, you know,” she said. “Dreams of being a little child, running naked down a gravel road. Something was chasing me, murdering my kin as it went. I was covered in blood and oil, and I have no idea why.”

“The Pig was linked to your mind as soon as you arrived here,” Hauser said thoughtfully. “Perhaps you were accessing some residual memories of another target.”

Bellona shook her head. “No. These weren’t residual memories, or hallucinations brought on by psychic trauma. These were my own memories. Memories of a time before I was an agent.”

“That’s impossible.” Hauser sat down next to her, beneath the Aegis. He seemed almost comically oversized compared to Bellona. “Our memories of our previous lives are completely purged away. None of us remember anything before the indoctrination.”

“So they say.” She turned slowly to look at him. The light of the fire cast strange shadows over him; shadows that looked like that of a hulking beast that chased young girls down dark gravel roads. “I had a life for a moment, Agent Hauser. I had a family that I believed to be real. I had a relationship that was real, even if it was for all the wrong reasons.”

“You played the part incredibly well,” he conceded. “It was the single greatest feat of infiltration I have ever seen.”

“And now I am returned to this world where I am Bellona, not Amanda.I do not know how old I am. I do not know if I am capable of love. I do not know if she was who I might have been had…” She turned back to the fire. “Had you never come for me, years ago.”

Hauser was silent for a moment. Then he said, “You are as capable of love as I am, Bellona. While you’ve sacrificed much in becoming an agent, you haven’t given up the core of humanity that makes you who you are. None of us have.” His gaze followed hers into the fire. “Jovlin taught me that,” he said softly. “And it remains the most important lesson I have learned in nearly eighty years of service.”

Bellona did not answer. After a few more puffs on his cigarette Hauser rose to his feet. “The cleaners will provide you with transport back. The Director will be in touch with you as soon as you’ve cleared medical.”

“Do you want to know how I killed it, Hauser?”

He glanced down at her, and suddenly Bellona looked very much like the nineteen year old he knew her to be. The scars on her pale face were a livid red, and in a few places there were deep gouges that would only add to the rictus mask she wore. She looked completely exhausted, her voice heavy with a weariness that belonged only to the damned.

“I already know,” he said, his voice equally tired as he turned away. “You showed it the truth.”

Credit To – IlluminatiExposed, JohnGrammsIlluminarium!

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The Beginnings of a Truly Haunted House

September 23, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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I was alone. I was always alone. Though I could feel eyes watching my every move, I was more alone than I had ever been. The walls were cold cement. I had a pretty good feeling that I was in a basement because there were no windows. It was just me, the mirrors, and the TV. That television had no buttons, no way for me to control it. It came on and shut off against whatever will I had. It showed me horrors: torture, illness, death beyond my wildest imaginings. It showed me peace with nature and happy people. It showed me mundane things like moths, porch lights, and windowsills. Sometimes it just went to that awful fuzz that one gets when the TV loses signal.

The mirrors were worse. In them, for days, maybe a week though it felt like much, much longer, I could see myself wasting away. I was dying from thirst, hunger, and unsanitary conditions. I had to relieve myself in the corner. The white bed sheets were stained with my grime. I could always see myself, but what I couldn’t see was a door. I didn’t know how I got in there. I didn’t know why. It was driving me crazy. I screamed. I broke the bedframe of the bed. I tried to break a mirror but only bloodied my hand.

One day, when I could barely move as I stared at myself in the bed, the TV came on. A man in a Giraffe Halloween mask said, “You’re free”. It was like the clip was stuck on repeat though. He chanted it over and over, but there was no way out. There wasn’t anything I could do to make him stop or to escape. When I broke down in tears, one of the mirrors pulled away, like a sliding glass door, and there was the man. I tried to get up, but I was too weak.

He grabbed me under the arms and hauled me up. He was strong. I asked him why he was doing this but he didn’t answer. I begged him to answer. I begged him to let me go. I begged him to stop. Instead he took me to a bathroom just outside the room. He washed me. He fed me. He gave me water. After closing up the room I was in, he set me in a chair, facing the doorway. I could see in the room. It was a two-way mirror after all. He flipped a switch somewhere behind me, and all suddenly the mirrors in the room weren’t mirrors at all. They were windows.

Across from me, there was an empty room. It had a bathroom and a chair, just like the one I was in. As the man grabbed my arms, I looked into the room to my right. There was a man there with his head bowed. His hair was long and hung in his face. He was so thin, I could count his ribs. Across from him, in the room to my left, there was a younger guy. He was less thin, but still ghastly. He was looking right back at me with hopeless blue eyes. He was tied to his chair too. We all were, in identical rooms.

“What is this?” I asked in absolute horror. “Why are you doing this?”

At least, he answered me. He said, “I’m raising a demon. That room, the one you left, that is the one you’ll die in. Not tonight, but soon. When I get the last man, when he has weakened and thought of death in that room of his own accord, when he has been free of it a week, when I bring you all together, taking your freedom away in that room, I will summon him with your demise. Enjoy your brief freedom, Danny.”

With that, he left. I yelled and screamed for him to come back. I demanded to know how he knew my name, but he never answered. He just left me there. The next time I saw him, he came in through the empty room, and cleaned the room he planned to kill us in. He cleaned every mess I made and even repaired the bedframe. I saw him a few times after that. He would come in, take me into the bathroom, still bound. He would wash me without a word. He would feed me. He would let me drink water. After which, I was right back where I started. I saw him do the same with the other men in the other rooms. The man with the long hair barely even lifted his head anymore. The other man barely ever looked at me.

One day, when I was sitting there, thinking about my fate, the man walked into the empty room across from mine. He turned around and dragged a body in after him. It wasn’t long until he took a new man into the room with the bed. He laid him on the sheets and left. The mirrors returned as he flipped a switch on the wall of the empty room, and dread truly set in. I had to watch as some other man wasted away. I couldn’t hear him, as he screamed, cried, and watched whatever was on the TV. The Giraffe man came in every now and then to go through the routine of bathing, feeding, and watering me. I’m sure he did the same with the others. Eventually, the other man was trapped in bed as I had been. He seemed to be in a daze as the TV flickered on.

He was collected as I had been. He was taken out of the room and with the door wide open, I could see the Giraffe man caring for him as he cared for the three of us already in his basement. When he was in the chair, the Giraffe man flipped the switch. This time, the long haired man was looking at the man in the chair. The other man had his head hanging low. I felt as frantic as the look on the guy’s face when he saw us all.

Eventually, the Giraffe man closed the door and left. When he came back, he cleaned the room again. He continued to silently keep me alive, along with the others, for who knows how long. It must’ve been a week at least. That’s how long he said he would keep us anyway. He walked into the room where he kept the man with the long hair. He opened the door and left. He went to the room with the man that was there before me, and opened the door. He came into my room, and opened the door. Lastly, he went to the new guy’s room, and opened the door.

He walked to the center of the room, and told us cheerfully, “It’s finally time.”

He dragged us by our chairs into the room, one by one. Three of us pleaded with him, the man with the long hair was silent. The Giraffe Man ignored us. Instead he hummed a merry tune, until we were all gathered around the middle. After which, he loudly called out, “I release you!”

I don’t think he was talking to any of us. The lights in the room flickered wildly. He started chanting something I didn’t understand. The long-haired man moaned in horror. The new guy and I were pleading and yelling. The other man was anxiously looking around the room. The Giraffe man slid a silver dagger out from under his shirt. The blade was so polished that it glinted and flashed in the lights as they jolted on and off.

He went to the long haired man and the lights flashed. In an instant, the man was gurgling up blood from a slice across his neck. Giraffe man went to the guy that was there before me, and did the same to him. I knew it was my turn. I screamed and screamed, but no one was there to save me. I was dead before I really knew it. In fact, I don’t even remember dying. I remember the blood-soaked blade at my neck, and darkness.

When I ‘woke up’, I was here. In that same room, with those three men for company. We’re good friends now, but we’re still trapped. Our entire existence is trapped. We’re stuck here, waiting, until someone destroys the house or rids it from the demon within. We rarely see the demon though. He likes to roam the rest of the house. He looks a lot like the Giraffe man. Part of me wonders if he died with us. Another part of me wonders if he’s just upstairs. The basement hasn’t changed, but the only time I’ve seen him is when the demon comes howling through our room in his guise.

Credit To – Nixie B. Vilda

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Left Behind

September 1, 2014 at 12:00 AM
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Barbara was sure the ritual worked. She stood up from the pentagram as 5 wicks slowly swirled their smoke in the room. The weather seemed angry—lightning flashed and roared through the coastal home, and suddenly the lights went out.

“Damn the power. Let him come” she thought to herself as she calmly went downstairs in the dark. She prepared some tea on the stove, and waited.

As her chamomile steeped, she again thought about how unfair it had been to take him so soon, only 8 years old. Sure, things hadn’t always been easy, but… she had put the bottles away. Things would be different, now.

She heard three distinct knocks at the front door. Excitedly, she ran to swing it open, only to find no-one there. She left it open as a welcoming invitation. Knocks from the back door drew her to the spot, only to find that doorway empty as well. She left it open, too, mist from the rain collecting on the tile floor.

As she was about to take a sip, she felt a presence behind her. He was here! She whirled round to see her boy: his face was obscured by shadows, but his brown shaggy hair and favorite flannel shirt marked him well enough. She ran to hug him and found he was incredibly heavy, much heavier than she remembered him only a few weeks ago.

“Hello Mommy,” said Michael.

“Oh! My boy! Things will be so different, so much happier, now that you’re here! Do you want—”

“I want to play a game. Mommy.” Michael interrupted. There was something unnatural in the tone he used for the word. “Why don’t you run… and hide. I’m going to catch you! This will be a LOT of fun.”

“Are you sure you—”

“DO IT,” his voice boomed through the house. Uneasily, she agreed as Michael began to count. She was going to hide in the pantry when she heard a growling noise, like the low rumble of a distant earthquake. She realized it was coming from Michael. As he counted, she realized she may have made a mistake.

“15, 14… you better hide better than that, Mommy. Some things are better left as they are. But I’m here, now.” His boyish voice became more and more tinged with that horrific, low grumble. The sound of a blade pulled from the kitchen butcher block alerted her ears to danger. Yes, this had been a mistake. Intense claps of thunder blocked further sound as she raced upstairs to the master bedroom, and locked the door. Like a child, she cowered in the closet and waited.

“10, 9, 8… I don’t know why you’d want me back, Mommy.” She heard his words as leaden feet ascended the stairs. “You weren’t nice to Michael. 7, 6, 5, 4…”

She started to cry frantically, curled in the corner of her closet. She was trapped. She felt as if she couldn’t breathe as the locked bedroom door easily sprang open.

“3… 2…”

Silence. She listened as the storm calmed outside and a whisper emanated from directly behind the closet door: “In fact, Mommy, Michael hates you. That’s why he left you behind… and sent me instead.”

The door flung open and a bolt of lightning illuminated rows of jagged, glinting white teeth crowding Michael’s mouth like a shark’s jaw.

The storm subsided. Her tea grew cold.

Credit To – Skyla2186

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Bound in Blood

July 19, 2014 at 12:00 PM
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“This can’t be the place they were talking about,” I said as I eyed the dingy antique store.

It was wedged between an old, closed movie theater and a barber shop. Its wooden, faded red sign read “Antique Bargains” and seemed it could fall off the storefront at any moment, crushing Morgan and me as gawked at the strange, rustic store.

My best friend Morgan and I were on the hunt for summer jobs, motivated by our desire to raise money for a spring break trip. We hadn’t had any luck until some of our friends told us about a “hiring” sign they had seen in the window of a “cute little shop.” From that description we had pictured a trendy boutique of some sort, not a suspicious, abandoned-looking shop.

“I guess it’s worth a try. But, Cassie, if this doesn’t work out, let’s head home for the day, okay?” Morgan’s shoulders slumped. She threw her long, dark hair over her shoulders. With her gorgeous, olive-toned skin and high cheekbones, she looked like a model even when she was exhausted. Morgan tired easily and I didn’t want to be a pest, but I had had a feeling that today would be the day I’d finally get a job.

“Yeah, okay.” I let out a small sigh and looked at my faint reflection in the store’s glass door.

My reddish blonde hair that had been neatly curled this morning was now disheveled. I had applied a modest amount of makeup to my heart-shaped face in an attempt to look presentable. I tried to smile at my reflection to prepare myself for the casual, friendly banter I knew was waiting behind that door.

I grabbed the cool, metal door handle and it felt like ice had shot through my veins. I gasped and let go for a moment.

“What was that? Did you shock yourself or something?” Morgan’s delicate features contorted with worry.

“It was nothing…the handle just felt really cold,” I said nonchalantly.

“Mhmm. I know the tough Cassie Warren better than anyone, you don’t squeal about little things. That’s my job. Maybe it’s a bad omen. Why don’t we go ahead and leave? We can grab pizza from Benny’s.” Morgan smiled.

“Don’t worry about it.” I laughed. “Come on, we’re not letting any bad omens scare us off.”

I pushed the door open and shuffled in with Morgan at my side. The musky smell of old books immediately assaulted our senses, provoking a small cough from each of us.

I glanced around and saw that the dimly lit store was home to hundreds of aging books, porcelain sets, and old furniture. In the far left corner, the cashier station sat unattended. Confused, I walked toward the station.

“Can I help you?” a faint voice whispered from behind me.

Startled, I spun around, heart racing. A slender woman with stringy, black hair stared into my eyes, smiling wistfully. Her tiny frame and pallid tone made her look like a skeleton- even her cheekbones jutted prominently from her face.

“Ah, yes, I’m sorry, you surprised me.” I laughed nervously.

The woman said nothing and continued to stare at us. Morgan shot me a nervous glance.

“Anyways,” I began awkwardly, “my friend and I were looking for a job and we saw that you’re hiring. Could you give us some details?”

The woman’s eyes lit up and she ushered us to the register.

“Of course! We are definitely looking for employees. How early can you start?”

“As soon as you need us!” I said enthusiastically.

“But don’t you want to interview us or have us to fill out applications or something before we’re hired?” Morgan’s voice was skeptical and it made me feel uneasy, especially considering the woman’s hasty job offer.

“We just had many people quit. They all moved far away. We’re looking for any help we can get. We’ll pay you well- ten dollars an hour, and you’ll only be expected to perform normal retail duties. We also allow you to be very flexible with your hours.” The woman’s energy increased as she talked, and she seemed very excited.

“Wow, that’s exactly what we’re looking for!” I grinned at Morgan. “Told you this would be the place.”

“It seems a little too good to be true,” Morgan whispered sharply, too low for the woman to hear.

I ignored her worry. Everything had fallen into place so easily. I knew this was the perfect job.

“Excellent. I just have a legal agreement you need to sign and everything will be ready to go.”

The woman handed each of us pens and forms with x’s that marked where we needed to sign. I clicked the pen with my thumb and cried out in pain at the same time Morgan did.

“Ouch! I think your pen stuck me.” I looked at the small pool of blood that formed on the tip of my thumb and winced.

“Sorry about that,” the woman murmured, seemingly preoccupied with something in the room behind the counter.

Morgan and I finished signing our documents at the same moment. As I set the document down I looked around for the woman, who seemed to have disappeared.

“Excuse me, m’am!” I called.

“Ha ha ha.” The woman’s laughter trickled from a closed door behind the counter.

She burst through the door and at first I didn’t recognize her. Her face was warped. It was as if her features had suddenly rearranged to the most grotesque position possibly. She was much thinner than before, and her black dress hung off of her like a sheet.

“It was exhausting keeping up that form for so long. Luckily you girls signed right on time.” She smirked and scooted toward us. “I didn’t think it’d be that easy. Most people are skeptical like Morgan.”

“I don’t understand what’s going on.” My voice was shaky.

“That’s not surprising.” The woman chuckled. “I wouldn’t expect you to realize that you signed your soul away for eternity.”

The seriousness of the woman’s voice juxtaposed with her ridiculous statement made me laugh hysterically.

“You had me worried I had signed something legally binding.” I laughed again as I headed for the exit. “Come on, Morgan, we’ll call it a day.”

Morgan hesitated for a moment and then followed me to the door. I looked back and the woman was still smiling. She snapped her fingers as if to signal someone.

“Agh!” Morgan screamed in pain.

Before I could comprehend what was happening, I felt sharp stings in my back, shoulders, and arms. I was tugged up in the air and the pain worsened. I glanced at Morgan to see that she was hoisted in the air by strings that had shot out from the ceiling. They were tied through glass shards that dug into her flesh, causing blood to trickle down her body.

I began to scream for help. I twisted my body, trying to rip out the shards, but they only dug deeper. My favorite teal shirt clung to my back, sticky with blood.

The woman watched in silence with an amused smile on her face. She waited until we had tired ourselves out and then launched into what she called our “orientation.”

“I’ve hired you onto my cult’s staff of eternal servants for the worship and comfort of our masters.” She smiled eerily. “Your bodies are bound to this through a blood contract. That pen drew your blood and filtered it into the ink. You literally signed your names in blood.”

I felt my eyes widen and I glanced at Morgan. She looked defeated as she gazed into the distance. I knew what she was thinking because I was thinking it too. This was all my fault.

“Every day you will spend your time doing tasks such as cleaning, performing ritual sacrifices, and maybe even luring in more workers like yourselves. Here, I’ll just give you a sneak peek of what’s in store!”

The woman pulled a lever by the register and the wall behind her started to shift. It opened to a room full of shackled workers. Some were making food, some patrolling the area with cleaning supplies, and some of them doing things even worse. One teenage girl with sad eyes cradled the bloody carcass of a dead lamb, carrying it to an unknown but surely awful destination.

“Don’t worry, this is only one area of workers! We’ve got dozens of other rooms you’ll be laboring in. I should also mention that you will be forced to attend our mass ceremonies, dedicated to our masters. These help keep our workers more… compliant with our ways. Oh, and one last thing. Our masters’ forms are a bit unsightly to newcomers because of their otherworldly nature. If you’re caught defaming them or expressing disgust in any way, your punishment will be much worse than hanging from these measly little threads.”

She reached around my back to strum one of the strings attached to me, sending a wave of fresh pain through my body. I bit down on my lip so I wouldn’t cry.

“Alright, time to send our newest little workers off! Good luck, ladies.” The woman waved and grinned again.

The strings tugged us toward the room like marionettes, shredding more of our flesh in the process.

“Morgan!” I yelled through the pain. “I promise you I will fix this. I promise I’ll find a way out. I just need you to hope with me, okay?”

I looked at her, hoping to find a hint of support in her eyes. Instead, she stared at me with accusation and hostility, tears forming in her eyes.

“It’s okay if you hate me. That doesn’t change anything, I’m still hoping for the both of us. I swear to you.”

My heart fell as our strings dragged us in different directions, pulling Morgan off to a place where I couldn’t protect her.

The strings finally unhooked from my back and dropped me to the ground in a dark room lit only by a single ceiling light. A mop and broom leaned against the peeling, off-white walls. I assumed that meant my duty was cleaning. I heaved the mop and began to mop in the center of the room where it was easy to see. I wasn’t quite sure why I was mopping- the tiled floors were surprisingly immaculate.

“Over here, child,” a chilling voice called softly from a dark corner of the room.

I squinted and realized that there was a faint outline of an inhuman figure squatting in the darkness. I remembered the woman’s warning and a shiver crept up my spine.

“I-I think I’m just supposed to be mopping. I’m not allowed to wander off.”

“Ha ha, I know that. I’ve left a mess over here that needs to be cleaned up. Don’t make me repeat myself.” The creature’s voice was unsettlingly soft. It reminded me of a cat’s purr.

“Ah, okay I’ll come get that. Sorry.”

I slinked over to where it was crouched and it took every ounce of willpower to keep from recoiling at the sight of what it wanted me to clean.

“Those… Is that-?” I stammered, unable to ask a question I truly didn’t want to know the answer to.

“Yes, those are the human remains of one of the workers here who was a little mouthy to me. Come to think of it, he was the last cleaner in this room. I guess you’re his replacement. What great timing.” Its chuckle was rough and gravelly. “So you can see what’ll happen to you if you don’t obey me this instant.”

“Yes, right away.” I hated the submissive tone of my voice.

I leaned in close enough to see the gelatinous substance that covered the dismembered body parts of the former worker. It looked like the creature had ingested him and then vomited the poor man onto the floor.

The smell and appearance were nauseating. While scooping a piece of torso up with a dust pan, intestines poured out of the gaping hole in the abdomen and I reflexively reached out to catch it. I squealed and dropped the squishy organs into the waste bag but my hand was covered in human tissue and the gooey substance.

The creature chuckled again. “Here, child, let me help you.” It started towards me and I backed up into the center of the room.

It followed and I gazed incredulously at its form in the light. Its legs were bent like a frog’s and they were thin and short with talons jutting out of its feet. Its body was massive compared to its legs. Its hulking shoulders and bulging chest connected to a short but wide neck that propped up its large head that resembled an anglerfish. It was on all fours, resting slightly back on its hind legs so it could extend its long, muscular forelegs.

I fought to maintain a blank expression, trying not to offend it. It leaned toward me and extended its pink tongue to lick the grime off of my left hand. It felt like sandpaper sliding across my palm. I smiled weakly.

“Thank you,” I managed to mutter.

The creature only smiled and crawled out of the room, its talons clacking against the floor, making the same sound as high heels strutting across the room, leaving me to clean up the rest of the remains.

*

“All workers must report to the room of worship immediately. It’s time for a mass ceremony.” The woman’s voice blared on the intercom system, startling me while I was cleaning another creature’s mess.

I had no idea how long I’d been in the building. The lack of hunger or fatigue made me think it had only been a couple of hours, but my intuition told me it had been much, much longer. I had cleaned several different rooms and ran into many more creatures, each of which always seemed to have a mutilated body for me to dispose of.

I hadn’t been to a ceremony yet, at least not that I could remember. My memories had begun to run together, leaving me with a fuzzy recollection of the past. I had only one consistent thought- escape.

I hadn’t realized how fortunate my cleaning job was until it dawned on me that I had to clean every room of the horrific labyrinth, meaning I was able to observe the patterns of the monsters’ and the cult members’ movements.

The monsters tended to cluster in the sacrifice rooms, which were also the messiest rooms. They gorged themselves on the sacrifices workers brought, occasionally growing bored and lurking the halls to taunt workers.

The cult members posed the biggest threat to my plans of escape. They were like security guards for the place, constantly patrolling to ensure that workers weren’t talking and that the monsters they worshiped were satisfied.

Once, I had encountered another worker alone in a room.

“Hey,” I whispered,” do you know anything about how to get out of here?”

The brunette female worker cowered away from me and refused to even look at me. After that, I assumed the cult had scared the workers into submission enough to make them afraid of each other. I noticed something else odd about the workers as well. They behaved like puppets- they were expressionless husks. I was on my own.

My thoughts returned to the announcement the woman made on the loudspeaker. If everyone was heading to the ceremony that would leave the exit wide open for me. The other workers were clearly bound by some power that inhibited their free-thinking, yet I still possessed full power over my mind. A thousand questions swirled in my head about why I was different. I pushed them aside. I had to hope that the cult members weren’t prepared for noncompliant workers like me. I prayed that they had left the exits unguarded.

I tiptoed into the hallway, walking softly across the long, weathered red rug that ran for what seemed like eternity. I reached its end and peaked around the corner, clinging to the peeling, puke-green colored wallpaper.

There was another long hall that led to a closed door marked with strange, red symbols. They appeared to be circles with different numbers of lines and dots in each circle. I began to round the corner until a cold hand closed around my wrist.

“Did you get lost little worker?” A male cult member in a black cloak said as he smiled at me. I couldn’t tell if it was genuine or sarcastic.

He must’ve been my age, about twenty-one. He had short, wavy amber hair and a chiseled face. Another cult member with blonde hair walked beside him and smiled sinisterly at me.

“Elian, wanna toy around with her a bit? There’s punishments for getting lost,” the blonde man said in a hard voice.

My heart pounded at his suggestion. In a place like this, toy around could mean anything from mild harassment to brutal torture.

“No.” Elian’s voice was stern. “We can’t screw around with ceremonies. You know how important they are. She looks new too, that’s probably why she’s not in formation with the rest. Let’s just shoo her along.”

I sighed with relief.

“Okay, head on that way, it’ll take you on the path to the ceremony room. Got it?” Elian asked.

I nodded and headed back down the hallway I had come from, eager to escape the prying eyes of the two men.

I sluggishly wandered in an attempt to blend in until I found other workers heading towards the same room. Their blank expressions and delayed movements made them look like zombies.

The room we gathered in was a huge auditorium, filled with movie-theater style seats that we filed into. I struggled to the back to grab an open seat by Morgan, but there was pain in her amber eyes and she refused to look at me.

Strange, even if Morgan hated me, she wouldn’t be able to resist talking for this long. I searched for another seat in the crowd and saw Elian’s familiar wavy, brown hair. A seat to his left was open and I hopped into it, too curious to stay away from the only cult member who had showed me a modicum of kindness.

I settled into the scratchy fabric of my chair and watched several cult members dressed in all black come onto the stage. They began to chant in a language I couldn’t identify as they lit candles around the stage. Smoke poured through the room, low to the ground, creeping through the aisles. It seemed to affect everyone somehow and they began chanting the same language as the people in black. Confused, I looked across the room and saw that, to my horror, Morgan had joined in the fervent chants as well.

Frantically, my eyes scanned the crowd for someone who wasn’t chanting.

“You’re not alone,” Elian whispered.

Puzzled, I faced him and noticed he had resumed chanting with the others.

“Hey, why were you awake too?” I yelled over the roar of chanting. “And why did you save me earlier?”

Immediately after the words came out of my mouth, the crowd became silent and stared at me.

“Now you’ve done it,” Elian muttered under his breath.

“Done what?”

The crowd suddenly began to close in around us with outstretched arms and I thought of my zombie observation from earlier.

“Sorry,” I apologized nervously while eyeing the encroaching group of brainwashed workers.

“You can apologize later, right now we’re leaving!” Elian shouted and grabbed my arm.

He stuck his left shoulder forward and used it to barrel through the hordes of brainwashed workers. I sprinted behind him, elbowing and kicking anyone who got too close. We were fortunate that all of the monsters were at the stage along with the cult members. I couldn’t imagine pushing through hordes of scaly flesh and jagged claws. We burst through the auditorium doors and dashed through hallways and corridors until we finally arrived in a room I had never seen before. Its door glimmered faintly in the darkness as if it were radiating heat.

“What’s going on with the door?” I asked as we entered the room.

“This room has been shielded from the darkness of this building using the powers of my people,” the man replied while shutting the door behind us. “We can find refuge in here for a short time. In case you didn’t catch it earlier, my name is Elian.”

“My name is Cassie. Aren’t your people the other cult members? Why would you want to help me?” I looked around the room. It was the first well-lit room I had seen in a while and I had to squint. It looked the same as the various rooms I had wandered through in the building.

“I abhor these monster-worshipers. I would never be a part of them. I infiltrated this place so I could help liberate these workers. It has been the goal of my people for generations.”

“Okay who are these people and why should I trust you or them?”

“I don’t want to waste time with stories, but I can tell you a little. My people are a clan of warriors known as the Enochli. We are bound by blood to each other and protecting innocents. We use a simple, protection-based form of magic, much different from the dark arts they practice here.” Elian scowled. “Thousands of years ago when this strange dimension opened and spilled into the dimension that you and I call home, monsters poured out from it and attempted to subjugate humans. The monsters gathered human followers and taught them dark magic. These people eventually became the cult members you know today. However, some cult members escaped after they realized what they were worshiping. They taught others the magic they had learned, but only after they performed a blood oath to swear they would only use it to protect humanity. From this group, the Enochli were born and they forced the dimension into smaller and smaller factions. This place is one of the last rifts between dimensions. My people have observed it for generations, searching for a way to penetrate it and rescue the souls trapped here. I was the only one to make it in, posing as a cult member who escaped from another dimensional rift that had been closed.

“Why didn’t either of us fall under that trance? My friend Morgan and I haven’t been here very long but she joined in the chanting.”

“That is because of the prophecy written on a scroll that was stolen from us by this cult. One of my people used magic to foresee the fate of this place so that we could end it. He had a vision of a worker who would rise out of the fog of the spell that binds them and become immune to the trance that ensnares the others. This worker is supposed to be a descendent of the Enochli with our same magic bonds running through their blood. He claimed that if this worker made a willing blood sacrifice by signing their name in blood on the scroll that contained the prophecy, that would free the other workers and force the otherworldly creatures to flee this dimension. Because of the willing agreement that workers sign with the cult, another willing agreement to end the slavery is required from a worker. Unfortunately, the cult prepared for this and used dark magic to brainwash the workers so that none of them could ever use their free will. That is what makes you so special. You’re the only worker who can make your own choices. However, the scroll is hidden and locked by magic that, again, can only be broken by the blood of a worker.”

I nodded, soaking in the information, steeling myself for what I would say next. A part of me cowered at the uncertainty of it all. Exactly how much blood did a sacrifice entail? Enough for me to survive after? I pushed the doubts to the back of my mind and focused on my promise to Morgan. I vowed to free her.

“Sounds like I’m your willing sacrifice then. Where’s this ‘magic scroll’?”

“I’ve been searching for it for a while now, but I think I finally found it. Oddly enough, you managed to find it after only staying here for a couple of days.”

“The door with symbols at the end of the hall. I knew I was on the right track earlier. How do we get there without getting caught? Everyone must be looking for us by now.”

“Now that we have the time to draw a few runes, I can finally be of service to you. What good is an Enochli without his magic?”

Elian pulled several small stones from his cloak pocket, laying them on the floor. He withdrew a small knife and cut his thumb. He then smeared the blood across the stones in the same circular patterns I had seen earlier on the mysterious door.

“These aren’t much, just illusion runes. Hold onto them and they’ll make you look like a regular cult member. If you let go, the illusion is broken. Understand?”

“Yes. Let’s find that room. I’m ready to end this,” I said with newfound courage.

We walked swiftly into the hallway, following the red rug’s maze to the locked door. The halls were eerily silent until we neared the room. I saw the woman from the antique store, standing a few yards in front of the door, talking quietly with another cult member.

Panicked, I clutched the cool rune stones in my palm, and attempted to walk past her without drawing her attention. Elian followed me, staying back a few paces.

I made it to the door and stared at it for a moment. I had no idea how to open it.

“Take this,” Elian whispered as he passed a knife to me. “Cut your hand and turn the doorknob with it.”

I fumbled with the blade and dropped a rune stone as I cut my palm. The stone clattered on the floor. The woman looked directly at me for a moment and then sprinted at Elian and I.

“Go Cassie! I’ll take care of her,” Elian yelled.

I nodded and flung the door open. Before me was a set of wooden stairs. I sprinted down the stairs that creaked under my weight. As my foot left the last step I spotted a large, beautiful scroll on a pedestal in the left corner of the room.

The room had wooden walls and a low ceiling. The floors were wooden as well and nothing was in the room aside from the scroll.

I readied my knife to slash another wound across my hand, but a pained cry from Elian that echoed down the stairs stopped me.

I ran up the stairs in time to see the woman gouge Elian’s shoulder with a dagger. She kicked his body backward and he tumbled down the stairs, knocking me down in the process.

Struggling, I shifted Elian’s weight off of me and readied my knife. The woman came flying down the stairs, lunging at me with her arms outstretched, her nails elongating into claws.

I leaped out of the way but she hopped on top of me, pinning me to the ground. I flicked my blade up and stabbed her chest, spraying blood across myself.

“You can’t kill me, dear Cassie. You might as well give up now.”

I couldn’t kill her, but I could trap her. With my remaining strength, I grabbed her hands and forced her claws through her throat, pushing until about half a foot her claws stuck out from the back of her neck. Blood poured out of the wound like a geyser.

I shoved her into the wooden wall and her nails dug and lodged into the wood, trapping her.

I used my knife to slice my left palm and dipped my fingers into the blood, using it to write my name across the blank space at the bottom of the parchment.

As I finished, I heard a gurgling noise and gasped as I saw the woman dying. Her life must have been tied to the scroll. Signing my name had taken her life.

“Elian! Are you okay?”

He nodded weakly from the ground. The woman had wounded him more severely than I had thought. I helped him off the ground and checked to make sure his injuries weren’t fatal.

“I didn’t even have to die and everyone was still freed,” I said with a small smile.

Elian nodded encouragingly.

“I’m honored to be part of such a moment, Cassie. You made history here and I’ll make sure the Enochli remember you as a hero.” Elian’s face glowed with pride.

I smiled sheepishly. “Before we talk about future glory and everything, I have to find Morgan!”

We quickened our pace and encountered several former workers who were wandering about and looking disoriented. After pushing through the last wave of people, I saw Morgan’s confused face.

“Morgan!” I called and we made eye contact.

She ran forward and hugged me, muttering an embarrassed apology about how she had resented me.

“It’s fine, I am the one who got us into this. I think we should stick to your original plan and give up the job hunting for now. If this is what the working world is like, I can stand to wait until after college.”

Credit To – Rachel Campbell

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