The Pixies

January 18, 2017 at 12:00 AM
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Chapter 1

What I’m about to tell you will seem unbelievable, inconceivable, and I’m sure downright made up. I can’t help the way that it sounds. I can only tell you what happened, what I remember, and hope that someone finds it within their compassionate soul to believe me. I know that I have to tell someone now because my time is short. I am no longer a spring chicken, nor a middle aged woman, let alone the innocent child I once was. I am now what people call over the hill, elderly, kaput. At 87 years old I am not in denial about my worsening health, loss of memory, or lack of ability to care for myself. I also am no longer in denial about what happened to me when I was just a small girl living in the beautiful forest of Upstate NY.
If you care to hear the story please pull up a chair and put on your listening ears. Bring an open mind and an interest in the unexplainable and I will spin you a tale of small children and pixies. Ahhhhh, I see you doubting already. No matter. You’re already here so you mind as well hear my tale before calling me crazy. However you should be forewarned that this is not a cute little tale of children making friends with cute little winged people. This is a dark and frightening tale of abduction and terror the likes of which most people will never experience. I hope none of you do. It’s why I tell my tale. If I can prevent one person, 1 child, from going through what I went through then I have lived and died for a purpose.
So let’s see here. Where should I begin? It was the end of summer when I was just a small girl of the age of 4. I lived in the woods on a long winding road without a neighbor for miles and miles. It was just my mother and myself. She was a single mother which in those days was unheard of. The towns people always gossiped and stared when we came into town but she was lucky enough to gain employment from a kindly older lady named Mrs. Willow who widowed by her husband had taken over the small motel they had run together. Mrs. Willow in her elder years had hired my mother to do the room cleanings she had done herself for nearly 45 years. She paid her a meager wage of just $1.50 an hour and of course didn’t need her for many hours per week as it was rare to have more then just 1 or 2 guests in a week.
Anyways as for my father. I never got to ask her about him. Someone once told me when I was about 13 or so that he had been a drifter whom my mother had loved deeply but who had left before knowing of her pregnancy and was never seen again. At the age of 4 though my mother was my whole world and I was hers and we had what I would call a wonderful life. That was until THAT day. A chill runs down my spine just thinking about THAT day again. It was the day that I went from being an innocent carefree girl to an adult in a small child’s body.
On THAT day, it was a Saturday evening, my mother and I were playing outside the small little shack we called a home. We were having a tea party on the small stump of an old tree that had fallen in a storm years before we moved in. My mother put a small table cloth over it and we got out my little tea set that I had gotten for Christmas the year before and we sat on the warm soft grass and toasted to another beautiful day together. We smiled and giggled and even though I can’t remember the exact words either of us said I can remember the feeling of being happy. Just purely joyful in the evening sun. I can remember the sun shining through the leaves of the trees and glittering all around. I can remember the smell of my mother’s hair like the lavender perfume she wore. How I miss that smell. How I miss her. Even now, all these years later I miss my mother more than anyone else I’ve met in all my years. I suppose I shall be seeing her again soon enough though.
I digress. THAT day as we sat giggling and having tea time we suddenly heard the ringing of our phone through the back door we had left open. Mother loved to air the house out daily as often as she could and today being warm and lovely she had it swung wide open with a concrete cinder block holding it in place. My mother told me to stay put and she’d be right back. I watched her walk away, up the 3 crooked wood steps, and disappear into the house. Her long lavender scented hair glistening in the sun as she went. It was then that I heard it.
“It” was the faint sound of…….hmmmm how do I explain this? Maybe like a wind chime or a small flute. A soft trickle of music emanating from the woods at the edge of our quaint backyard. It was beautiful. Soothing. It drew me in and without even knowing what I was doing I was getting to my feet and headed towards the woods. The soft music growing slightly louder as I neared the edge but still faint and soooo, hypnotic. I wanted to see what was making that wonderful sound. As I neared the woods there was something else too. Something sparkling here and there when the light from the sun caught it just right. Curiosity drew me closer and closer. I squinted my eyes to try and bring whatever it was into focus but it was small and even though at 4 yrs old my eyes were a far cry better than what they are now I still didn’t see what that glittering thing was until I was just about on top it. Even when I did see it my brain didn’t register what it was right away.
This is where my story may make you question my memory or my sanity, perhaps both. Please bear with me though and allow an old dying woman the peace of knowing she told someone, warned someone, whether you choose to heed those warnings is entirely up to you. Anyways. I leaned down close to the ground and there on the soft bed of fallen leaves was a very small unicorn with a jewel encrusted horn. I know that’s hard to believe. At first I thought it was a toy but then it moved. To be honest it scared the crap out of me and I jumped back in shock. However then 4 yr old me was reaching out to touch it before I even knew I was doing it. I felt like I was in a dream. The world around me hazy and fading into the background. It was like the only thing I could see was this unicorn with it’s amazing horn and all I wanted to do was touch that horn. Just once. If it would let me. But I knew it would. A little voice in my head said go ahead and touch it. It wants you to. So I did.
As soon as my soft skin touched that horn I felt it stab into my flesh. It was the tiniest thing, no bigger then the end of a sewing needle, but it was sharp and it hurt like someone had sliced my finger with a kitchen knife. I started to scream but my voice caught in my throat and I hit the ground twitching and struggling to breathe. I remember laying there on the ground with the world shaking around me, the sun glaring down on me, blinding me, and thinking I was dying. Even at 4 the logical outcome was undeniable. Even then I knew that no air meant no life. I scratched at my throat and slowly, it seemed an eternity, the world around my went black. I thought I was dead. Later on I wished I was.

CHAPTER 2

When my eyes opened again everything around me was still dark. I automatically began to scream for my mother. Surely she would hear me and come running. She would turn on the light and brush my tangled hair from my tiny face and rub my cheek. She would tell me to “breathe baby” and follow it up with “shhhhhhhh” as she hugged me to her and that wonderful lavender hair would brush against my cheek and I would be safe. That’s not what happened though. Someone did talk but it wasn’t her. I wasn’t even sure it was a someone. It sounded more like a something and the very sound of it’s voice nearly drove me to the brink of insanity. Something in the dark let out a stern sounding “shhaddduuupppp you whining little crybaby.” The voice didn’t sound human though. It sounded moist. Bubbly, as if there were liquid in the throat of the creature who’d said it. It was a, for lack of a better word, evil sounding voice. I was silent but tears rolled down my little round cheeks and I struggled to see into the darkness.
I reached out with tiny hands into the dark. I reached out cautiously but I reached out. I seemed to be on a bed of leaves and twigs. The leaves were wet and the twigs were hard. Some of them were poking into my little bare legs that stuck out from underneath my pretty yellow sundress mother had made me. It hurt but I was too scared to think about it or even notice. Even as I felt blood trickle down my right leg from where one of them had punctured the skin I didn’t notice. As I leaned a little further into the darkness I touched, something, it was all around me but my hand could slip past it in parts. Suddenly I knew what it was. It was a cage. I was in a cage. Why was I in a cage? I didn’t understand. Cages were for birds or other animals, not little girls. I crawled to the edge and stuck my face up to the bars and realized there was light coming from below me. I struggled to see what it was and then fear swept over me. Not only was I in a cage, I was in a cage about 15 feet from the ground. Just dangling up there in the dark.
I peered down into the faint light below me and that’s when I saw IT. My fear turned into pure terror and I was sure something snapped in my brain. I once again began to scream. This time it’s return screams of “shaddduupppp” didn’t silence me. My screams were not a choice. They weren’t an option or voluntary in any way. It was like something was pulling them out of my stomach by way of my mouth. That thing! OH MY GOD that thing that was down there. It still rocks me to my core to even think about it and I’d rather not. I can’t tell you my story without you understanding though. Fully understanding what I saw, what had me in that cage precariously perched high above the ground.
What I saw below me can best be described as petrified wood that has started to rot and grow moss and mold. Rotted, mossy, moldy, wood that had come to life in a vague shape of something that resembled human form. The dimensions were all wrong though. The arms and legs too long, too thin. The back curved much like my own back does now. Even in the darkness I could see things slithering around it’s body. Living things and I wasn’t sure if they were feeding off of the things growing on this creature or putting it there. Maybe both. When it moved it made sounds that were both dry and cracking yet wet and mushy. It’s back was to me and it looked as though it was preparing something. A meal maybe? The light was coming from under a very large pot with liquid in it. I suddenly became aware of the smell coming from that liquid and it turned my stomach. At the time I didn’t know what that smell was. No 4 yr old would or should. No 4 yr old should ever know what human meat cooking should smell like.
That creature heard me scurrying around in my cage and turned to look up. I wish it hadn’t. The sight of it’s grotesque body and the sound of it’s hideous moist voice were enough for me, but it turned none the less. It turned and I saw the face of evil. The face of evil knew I saw it and sneered showing it’s pointy uneven teeth in a mouth that was much too large. My God that thing had teeth that looked like the rear end of a porcupine. They were long, skinny, and pointy. I knew right away if this thing bit me those teeth would go all the way through my arm like a sharp knife slicing some butter that’s been left out in the sun all afternoon at the family picnic. It’s eyes were nothing more then little slits with glowing yellow coming from the centers. I didn’t see a nose but it’s ears were tall and ended in a point that leaned back away from the face. It also appeared to have something growing out of it’s back. If I were older it may have taken me longer to figure it out but being just a little girl who often fantasized about fairy tale creatures I knew almost instantly what they were. I mean they weren’t like any I’d ever imagined but they were wings nonetheless. They looked like more of that dry wood jutting out from the back in multiple branches. The “branches” were strung together with something that looked like skin. It was stretched and thin with holes in it here and there as if it’d been torn by something and the light shown through them illuminating them in a way that made me quiver. Suddenly the world was going out of focus again and I fell to the bottom of the cage cutting my cheek on a twig as I did.
I’m not sure how long I was passed out for either time. I do know that some time did pass and when I awoke I was being lowered downward. My cage kind of bouncing and swinging as I got lower and lower. Panic hit me and it hit me HARD! That THING down there was lowering me. It was going to eat me up with those sharp, skinny, pointy teeth it had. I began to cry and slid myself back against the far corner of the cage. I had not been to the restroom since earlier that day and while at age 4 it had been a good long time since I had any type of accident I can assure you that when I came to face to face with this monster from the dark my bladder let loose and urine spilled out of my body and down my legs. It ran in a river to the edge of the cage and off onto the floor. I thought the creature was going to be mad but it smiled happily instead. It was loving the fact that it scared the piss right out of my little body. It knew I was frightened and it loved every minute of it.
Once lowered I came face to face with a creature most people never even see in their nightmares. It was like a combination of every horrifying creature created for the big screen all thrown into one beast. It sneered and then from between it’s long skinny teeth what appeared to be a serpent like tongue jutted out and licked it’s lips. This time I was so scared I couldn’t make a sound. My eyes squeezed shut tightly and I prayed I was just dreaming. Inside my mind I screamed for this to please be a dream. When the creature spoke again I knew it wasn’t a dream though and I opened my eyes to face this monster. It said “Time to eat child, you’re far too skinny.”
I slid back from the cage door as the creature removed the lock and pried it open. It had a bowl of something in it’s creepy long fingers and it slip it onto the floor of the cage and then closed the door once more. “Are you going to hurt me?” I asked. Hopeful that the answer was no but knowing that even if this thing said no it would mean yes.
Opening it’s gaping mouth once again into a grin evil enough to drive a sane man mad it said “Eat!” and then I was being raised back up into the ceiling of this dark hole where the creature resided. What ever was in that bowl smelled horrid and as hungry as I was I wasn’t going to touch it. I laid down in my cage and cried myself to sleep. I wanted my mommy. I wanted my bed. I wanted my stuffed bunny Marshmallow who’s fur was tarnished and dirty from the love of a 4 yr old girl who took it everywhere. I wanted to be anywhere but here. Here I would stay for another 2 weeks though.

CHAPTER 3

The days pass slowly when you’re being held hostage by a creature in the dark. 1 day slowly rolled into 2 and by the 3rd day I was so hungry so that I ate the food that the beast gave me. He informed me that his name was Trekin as in “Trekin says EAT NOW!!!” He took me out of the cage to clean it after a couple of days of me using part of it as a bathroom. Even then I knew it was disgusting but I didn’t have a choice. I tried to hold it. I begged him to let me out so I could go. He responded to my cries with screams and guttural noises that I wasn’t sure if it was a language or just noise. I never told anyone about having to go to the bathroom in that cage but if I’m going to give you the full account of my time there then I’m going to go ahead and lay it all on the line.
The 3rd day was also the day that Daisy showed up. I really liked her. I saw Trekin carry her in slumped over his shoulder and imagined I must’ve looked much the same when he brought me in. He popped her into a cage and raised it up near mine. She lay sleeping for what seemed like hours and then slowly began to stir. It was very dark in there but after time your eyes adjust and you can see well enough to make due. I saw when he brought her in that her hair was dark. Either brown or black. She had a plump little body that had been poured into some pink overalls with a white shirt, already dirty from her trip here, under it. Her hair in 2 braids that hung to about the middle of her back. She was wearing a little pink shoe on one foot but must’ve lost the other in transit because her other foot was bare. When she started to stir I tried to quickly calm her. It didn’t work. As soon as she opened her eyes to the darkness and then finally figured out what was happening she had much the same reaction as myself. There were screams and cries and even some begging and pleading to be let go. Trekin paid no attention to any of these except to tell her to shut up.
Once Daisy calmed down and began to accept her new reality I spoke to her again in a whisper. “Hello, are you ok now?” I asked. I knew that neither one of us was ok but I wasn’t sure how else to begin our first conversation in this dark and dank environment. Daisy replied in a weepy voice, tired from screaming and crying that she was for now. We talked for much of the night about our homes, our families, even our toys. I learned that she was 6 and in the 1st grade at her school called Hillside Elementary. She had a teacher named Miss. Buckner who was nice most of the time but sometimes got mad at this one kid named Shawn and would yell loudly at him which scared her. Daisy was shy and sweet and in some ways even more terrified then me. She was older so maybe she had everything figured out before I did. Either way I liked her and I felt so much better having someone to talk to. There were times over the next couple of days where I almost forgot where I was. There were times we even giggled as little girls do.
Happy times were often cut short as we were lowered to face that horrid thing that resided below us so that he could feed us or clean our cages. If he thought we were too happy he would poke those long fingers of his into our arms or legs until he punctured our delicate skin bringing blood to the wounds and tears to our eyes. He loved to torment us, he loved to remind us that this wasn’t summer camp.
6 days into my stay with Trekin I asked him shyly what he was? He looked pleased. “Have you never seen a pixie before child?” That sly smile touching his crooked mouth. I shook my head no and dropped my gaze to the floor of my cage. Looking into the murky eyes of that creature was something I cared not do for long. “I am a wood fairy. My kind has ruled these forests for over a thousand years and will continue to do so for many many more.” I had no doubt he was telling the truth.
“What do you want with us?” I asked
“Dear sweet girl, there is only one use for a child of man……………” He paused dramatically and smiled in a manner even more gruesome then usual. “You’re food!” he said as he threw his head back and began laughing like the lunatic he clearly was.
I wasn’t surprised by this news. I mean part of me hoped not but part of me knew. He was feeding us often and somehow I knew it was to fatten us up. Somehow I knew that this creature had one plan all along and I knew that his plan never involved us going home again. Tears rolled down my face silently as he raised me back up next to Daisy. All the while he was laughing to himself.
It was that day that I decided that Daisy and I needed to escape as soon as possible. Of course poor Daisy would never step foot out of this creature’s den again but I didn’t know that. I also didn’t know that this creature while nothing like the pixies I had imagined in appearance did in fact have magical qualities that would make escape even harder then imagined. It was in fact Daisy’s death that led to my escape. I’ve always felt terrible for the loss of her but at the same time at least her torment ended. Mine still continues all these years later as I wait for the return of that hideous creature named Trekin. I don’t know how I know that he’s coming but I know none the less.

CHAPTER 4

After being raised back up I whispered to Daisy that we were going to have to get out of there. She agreed and we started hatching a plan. It was simple and not very well thought out at all. We were just young girls ages 4 and 6 if you recall. Our plan was simply to wait to have our cages cleaned again and then to make a run for it. One of us, whoever he cleaned first, would push past Trekin and grab the huge spoon he stirred his pot with and hit him in the head with it as hard as she could. Then that girl would open the other cage and we would both run as far and as fast as our legs would carry us. It was simple. It was foolish. As if it would be that easy. Our young ages blinded us to the reality. Of course reality is a fleeting thing for small children locked in cages in the den of a wood pixie anyways. Irony was definitely laughing at us throughout this ordeal.
On the 8th day in Trekin’s possession our chance to escape came. It was Daisy he let out first and she did as we had planned up high in our perch above his elongated head. He unlocked her cage and she made a mad dash pushing into her door and knocking him off balance as she sprawled out past him on the dirt floor of his abode. She quick jumped to her feet and grabbed the large spoon and swung it hard as she could smashing Trekin right in his mouth full of pointy sharp teeth. I saw him grimace in pain and part of me relished it even in that small moment of time which was most likely no more then a microsecond. I yelled for Daisy to hurry and let me out as I shook the bars ferociously.
Trekin wasn’t knocked unconscious as we had planned though. While being knocked down had shocked him and being hit had hurt him it wasn’t long before he recovered and was on his feet headed straight for Daisy with his long fingers reaching out for her. I saw panic in her face and an apologetic look as she turned away from me and ran for the door. She was leaving me. She was going to run and leave me here to be eaten by this creature. I understood though. In that small flash of time I knew I would have done the same.
Daisy reached the door of the den and swung it open throwing herself through it as fast as her pudgy little legs would permit. That’s when it happened. That’s when I realized that leaving this place was going to be even more of a challenge then I had previously thought. Daisy’s body hit the doorway and not just bounced back but was thrown backwards with the force of a mac truck hitting her. She flew through the air and hit the far wall of the dome shaped room. What I’m going to tell you next is graphic but I see no point in making this out ot be anything other then the full account of what I saw and heard during my stay with Trekin the wood pixie. Daisy hit that wall with such force that I could literally hear the bones in her little body break into pieces inside of her. The back of her skull flattened against the wall and as she bounced off and hit the floor face first she left behind what could only be blood and brain matter with chunks of skull that actually stuck into the wall. I let out a scream and fell backwards in my own cage. My only friend in this hellish place was dead. I know this sounds awful but I didn’t know what upset me more. The loss of her, the realization that I was alone with Trekin, or the realization that my own death was next. Either way I lay there in the bottom of my cage crying uncontrollably.
Trekin had walked over to where Daisy lay in a pile of broken flesh and bone and was hovering above her. I heard him laugh maniacally and then even through my own sobbing I heard him say something that caught my attention. “Silly child of man,” he said. “You can’t leave this enchanted space without the key.”
I opened my eyes and looked at him and saw that he was holding out a rope from his neck. He was holding it out over her body and laughing. On the end of the rope I saw a small charm. It wasn’t a key at all though. It was……….MY GOD!!! it was a tiny little unicorn. I had seen that tiny creature before. The last time was the day I was brought here and it was alive. This time it was more like a little glass figurine but it was the same creature. I was sure of it. Trekin picked up what was left of my new friend and carried her into the next room. I sat there debating in my mind how I could get that necklace from around Trekin’s neck and escape this awful hole that he called enchanted. The events of the day had worn on me though and I fell asleep leaning against the bars of my cage.
When I awoke again I peered down into the faint light below me to see Trekin coming back into the only room I had known for days now. He had a tray in his hands and on the tray was pieces of meat and blood. He tipped the tray up and they slid into the boiling pot below me splashing some of the hot liquid inside onto the floor. It was then that true terror touched my soul yet again. It was then that I realized that was bow cooking my friend Daisy. It was then that I realized that the food I had been eating since the 3rd day of my capture was whatever child had sat in this cage before me. The world got all wobbly and I felt everything in my stomach lurch up into my throat. It spewed from my mouth violently and then the world went dark as I fell face first into my own freshly spewed vomit. Not a pretty picture I know. One I wish wasn’t locked into my memory but that’s what happened.
Some time later I opened my eyes to my cage being opened and I jumped backwards so hard I hit my head on the bars of the cage and saw stars. Trekin was peering in at me with his teeth showing in a snarl and saying something about I’d better not try anything or I’d be joining my friend sooner then later. His long wood like fingers grabbed a hold of my tiny wrist and he dragged me out of my cage in one movement and threw me to the floor. He towered over me and then grabbed a large bowl and to my shock dumped cold water right on top of me. “Dirty, filthy, creatures, children of men are.” he said shaking his head. Still you could see the enjoyment he got out of dumping that cold water on top of me while I was still dazed and confused from the events of the day. One side of his face lifted in an Elvis like sneer and he dumped a second pot into my cage rinsing away my vomit, urine, and feces. He grabbed another pot and dumped in some new leaves and twigs and then grabbed my drenched body and lifted it back into the cage. He peered at me through the open door for a moment. I thought he was going to say something but then he shut the door and locked it once again. He didn’t raise me up though. He left me hanging just a few feet from the ground and started to fill a bowl from the large pot in the center of the room that he had generously fed me from all along. I instantly started shaking my head and crying. He re-opened the cage door and slid the bowl in. “Your friend is sweet as pie.” He said laughing as he started pulling the rope that rose my cage into the air.
Once raised I looked at the bowl and I cried. I told Daisy I was so sorry. I knew then that I would go hungry either until I finally died, Trekin finally killed me, or until I escaped this place. I was hopeful for an escape. My little brain just couldn’t think of how to do it though. No matter how much I tried I couldn’t figure out how I would ever be able to get down, get the “key”, and escape without being killed. 4 more days passed and with each day I grew weaker from lack of food. The weaker I got the less hope I had. I was now on my 12th day here in this hell and I was now hoping more for death then anything. I just lay in the bottom of the cage. Not moving, not speaking. I didn’t cry. I didn’t do anything. Honestly I think that was also a big part of being able to escape. Trekin grew concerned. Not because I was weak but because I was getting thinner and thinner. “You’re no good to me without some meat on your bones!” he said. He was clearly angry. He lowered my cage and stared at me. He must have been thinking of ways to get me to eat or deciding if he should just kill me now before I could lose more weight but he said nothing. Just stared. He stared for what seemed an eternity but I was lost to my own little world, slowly dying as I lay there in the bottom of my cage.
Trekin didn’t bother to lift me back up. When he went to the other room for the night he left me down low. I’m not sure if he didn’t feel I was strong enough to be a problem or if he just plain forgot. As I entered into day 13 I sat up slowly and looked around the room I was in. Escape hadn’t crossed my mind just yet. At first I was merely looking to see if there was any food near enough to me to reach and eat. Across the room on a small table I saw something that looked like bread. My stomach growled and I touched the lock on my cage door as if it would just pop open because I wanted it to. It didn’t. I reached my arm through the cage and tried to grab the edge of the pot in the center of the room. My fingertips were about 2 inches shy of reaching it and so I stretched and leaned. It was then that I realized my entire arm was now out of the cage and half of my head. I realized that if might be possible to slip my entire head out of the bars of the cage. I pushed and pain hit me instantly as my ears bent up tight against my head and one of them scraped against the rough metal of the bar and ripped open. Blood came pouring down my neck and onto my shoulder. It wasn’t enough to stop me from pushing though. The pain in my ear was nothing compared to the pain in my stomach and I pushed with barely a sound as my head popped out of the bars of the cage. Of course now here I was with my head and an arm hanging out of my cage about 3 feet from the ground and not sure what to do next. I was sure the rest of my withered body would slide through as well but what if Trekin caught me?
Fear made my heart pound against my tiny rib cage almost hard enough to physically see it. I decided I’d rather die fighting then laying in that cage. I don’t know why I decided it. I don’t know where that strength was for the days before this moment but I was suddenly filled with the desire to live. Pushing through the bars was easier then I imagined it would be. After 4 days of not eating my tiny body was little more then some skin and bones. Had I been in the air this would have been pointless but this close to the ground it was an easy task. Of course going head first was difficult as I had to lean downward and fall to the ground head first as well. As I left the cage it swung back away from me ever so slightly and when it swung back it hit me right in the side of my head just as I was setting myself upright. The metal created a gash that instantly began to bleed about an inch long and I grabbed my head and cried out before I could stop myself. I stood there like a deer in the headlights quite sure that Trekin was going to come running and and destroy me with one hit from those pointy wooden claws of his. Everything remained quiet and nothing stirred though.
I walked over and grabbed the bread like stuff from the little table and began shoving it into my mouth. It was the most delicious thing I had ever eaten in my life. It wasn’t bread. It was better then bread. It was moist and sweet and after just a few bites I was already feeling full. I kept eating though until my little belly protruded. When I was done I looked around the room once again. Something in my brain said I should climb my butt back into that cage and live to fight another day. Something else in me was screaming though. It was screaming to me to find a weapon. To look for Trekin. To take that necklace. Finally to ESCAPE this place. I listened to the 2nd voice. After all, that one was much louder.

CHAPTER 5

I slowly and quietly crept into the next room. Trekin was not there. It was a small room with tables and cabinets on one side. This was the room where he prepared the meat for his stews. There was also a hole in the floor to one side of the table. I peered in and the smell came up and hit me in the face like a baseball being pitched by a professional pitcher. I knew right away that this hole was where he threw the parts he couldn’t use. I almost lost the new food I had in my belly but managed to keep it down. I rose from my knees and started to quietly open drawers looking for a weapon of sorts. On the 3rd drawer I found a knife. It wasn’t very large but it was sharp and it fit in my tiny hand nicely. I grabbed it and walked very slowly, one step at a time, to the next dark room. Although it wasn’t a room. It was a hallway. I was so glad the floors were made of dirt. No squeaky wood boards like in my house. Down the hallway there were 2 doors. Both closed. It was clear that Trekin was behind one of them. I was terrified that he was just standing there in the darkness of one of the rooms waiting to pounce. Suddenly I was sure he left me down on purpose. I was sure this was all part of his game. He knew I couldn’t escape the house so he was playing with me before killing me. Maybe fear makes little girls taste better. I almost turned around and ran for the cage. I didn’t though. I continued down the hall and turned the first knob slowly.
The room behind that first door was dark and smelled of mold and mildew. I knew immediately it was some sort of bathroom. I could hear drips of water coming from some source within the room. Most likely some sort of sink or shower. I suddenly wondered if Trekin really showered and also if he pooped. Silly thought I know. I even giggled a bit when I thought of him sitting on a toilet in that dank smelling room. I clasped my own mouth so I wouldn’t laugh out loud and continued on to the next door. I stood outside of it contemplating what I was going to do when I opened it. I couldn’t for the life of me think even a minute ahead of my own actions. Finally I just reached out and touched the knob. It was made of metal like my cage but smooth. My hand almost slipped right off of it but finally caught hold and I turned it slowly and pushed.
This door seemed heavier then the last and as I pushed it open a faint light hit me. Trekin it seemed slept with the lights on. Another thought that almost brought a laughing fit to my lips. I scolded myself inside my own head. There was nothing funny about this situation. Had I lost my mind? Although I suppose in some ways I had lost parts of it I told myself it was just because I was so scared. I opened the door just enough to slip into the room that Trekin used as his bedroom. It wasn’t like a human bedroom. There was no bed, no pictures, no decorations. It was simply an empty room with a large branch from a tree of some sort reaching from one side to the other. It stuck into the walls on either side and Trekin was hanging from it. He was upside down and his grotesque toes were wrapped around the branch holding him there like a bat. His arms folded across his chest. He was snoring. This horrible, guttural, sound that made me cringe and took away any feelings of wanting to giggle immediately.
I walked over to him hanging there by his feet. I walked slowly but I walked. One foot in front of the other I walked until I was close enough to see those little bugs and wiggly things living on, or in, his body. I wondered what would happen if I stabbed him with the tiny knife I held in my hand. I decided that it wouldn’t do much to this creature made mostly of wood and decided against it immediately. I instead leaned in close and searched his neck with my eyes. There it was! The necklace with the unicorn pendant. I reached in and just as I was about to touch it Trekin moved. I thought it was over. I thought after all this he had woken up and saw me reaching for it and any second those teeth would be cutting into my arm probably tearing it off of my body in the process. My eyes closed tight waiting for the pain. Nothing happened though. I re-opened my eyes and realized that he was still sleeping. I let the breath I had been holding in escape my mouth very slowly and sucked in a fresh batch before proceeding. My tiny fingers wrapped around the necklace and I reached out with the knife in my other hand and sliced the rope holding it together around Trekin’s neck. I backed up slowly all the way to the door in disbelief. I had it. The “key” as he had said. When my back hit the open door I turned and left the room as silently as I had come in. Back down the the hallway, through the prep room and back into the main living area where I had been kept.
I walked slowly to the main door realizing now that I had no idea how the “key” worked. What if I opened the door and went through only to be thrown into the wall like Daisy. A memory of her skull flattening against the wall popped into my head and I shuddered. I took a deep breath, held the pendant in my hand and opened the large door to the outside world. Shock hit me almost instantly. The sun was shining out there and it was glorious but something wasn’t right. Everything was much too large. Trees jutted up into the blue sky that looked to be a thousand feet tall. The leaves that had blown up next to the door of my captors residence were taller then me. A bird flew by overhead. Just a simple blue jay but it was the size of a minivan at least. I gasped. Then I heard something behind me. Trekin was awake and coming down the hall. No time to wait. I reached out and stuck my hand holding the pendant out of the doorway. It went with ease and grew instantly. There I was a tiny girl on one side of the door and a giant hand on the other. Footsteps were growing louder and I flung the rest of my body out of the doorway instantly growing back to my original size. I stumbled and fell to my knees. I looked back to see a very small door opened in the base of a large old oak tree. I quick shut it tight and held my hand against it while looking for a rock to put against it. Just as I spotted the perfect one I heard a ghastly howl from behind that tiny door. Trekin had discovered my escape. He sounded furious. I grabbed a rock, stuck it against the door and ran. I ran as ast as my legs could carry me. I wasn’t sure where I was or where I was going but I ran.
After what seemed an eternity of running, just as my tiny legs started to give out, I came across a small dirt road. I fell to the ground as I got to it and just laid there sprawled out and gasping. I heard something coming closer and I knew in my heart it was Trekin. He had pushed that rock aside, escaped his home, grown to enormous size, and tracked me down to the side of this little road. I was too scared to even move as the noise drew closer. I closed my eyes tight and hoped maybe he wouldn’t see me. Maybe he would run right past me but then I heard a voice. “Oh my god, it’s a little girl.” It was a man’s voice, not a monsters. “Quick Ilene get a blanket and come quick, she’s still breathing.” A Pause and then “Sweety? Sweety? Are you ok? What happened?”
I couldn’t talk though. Tears were running down my face by the gallon as this stranger and his wife Ilene wrapped me in a blanket and put me in their car. Ilene hugged me to her as her husband rushed us to the nearest hospital. It was there that the questions began. There that the strange stares, whispered disbelief, and judgement started. It was also there that I finally got to hug my mother again. It was there that I got to bury my dirty, tear soaked face into her wonderful lavender smelling hair. My mother was always a proud woman. Well put together, well groomed, and one of those never let them see you cry types. When I saw her again after my 2 weeks in the woods she had changed though. Her hair a mess, she had lost weight, her clothes disheveled, and her face covered in tears to match my own. “Where have you been baby?” was all she could muster in those first moments.
Days passed and my mother never left my side. I was cleaned up, my wounds dressed, and rehydrated. The staff sent a psychologist to talk to me when my story of where I had been didn’t change for the police. They were convinced that I had created this story of an evil pixie to cover up the weeks of abuse I must have suffered at the hands of whatever man had kidnapped me. They were grateful that I hadn’t been violated physically, and couldn’t understand how they had missed this man’s residence in all the searches they had done of the woods. They were going to continue to search though and they assured my mother they would find the monster responsible. The doctors eventually had no choice but to send me home with my mother and hope that someday my memory would return so they could know what the man looked like and maybe more about his home. They said it was perfectly normal for me to make up stories and not to worry but I could tell my mother was worried. Not because she thought I was crazy. She was worried because she knew me and she was worried I was telling the truth.
About a week after I returned home a police officer named Dan Peters stopped by our little home in the woods. He asked my mother if he could speak to her in private. My mother asked me to go to my room and wait there for a moment. I didn’t like being away from her and had in fact slept in her bed every night since I had been home but I did as I was asked. I left my door open and stood near it though. Ready to run back to her should anything happen. From my doorway I could hear them talking in hushed tones. I heard something about Daisy. I could hear my mother say what a shame it was and how badly she felt for the family. I could hear her saying that she would talk to me and let him know. Then I heard our creaky front door close and my mother’s footsteps coming toward my room. She smiled as she entered into my field of vision but her smile was no longer the same as it had been. My absence had not only changed me, it had changed her.
“I need to ask you something baby girl.” An undertone of seriousness. Maybe sadness. “The little girl Daisy you said you met while you were away………you said she………was killed right?” I could tell this topic wasn’t something she wanted to discuss but the officer had asked her to question me and she had little choice because she wanted to find this man who had stolen her daughter from her. I nodded. She asked me if I could describe her? Of course I could. Daisy had been my best friend, my only friend in that disgusting little hole, and I remembered her vividly. The doctors and police had thought I made her up too. Like a sort of imaginary friend as it were. It wasn’t until weeks later that they realized a little girl named Daisy had been reported missing in the next town over and put 2 and 2 together. Daisy’s family wanted desperately to find her of course and their only hope was a little girl who claimed pixies had done it and their little girl was dead. My mother questioned me off and on for days. She explained how important the truth was. She told me how much it would help if I could just remember even 1 thing about the man who had taken me. That even if Daisy was in fact dead finding her body would be tremendously helpful for her family and would provide closure for them. I told her over and over that I was telling the truth. Finally my mother called the police officer and told him that I still had no memory of the man or the home. I heard her apologize and tell him she would call if anything changed. It never did.
Years passed and mother and I moved to Georgia to be closer to her sister Annie. She said she could use my mother’s help with her 4 children but I knew it was more like my mother could use her help. Our bills were behind and since Mrs. Willow had passed work for my mother had been scarce. We were still the talk of the town and I was always known as the strange little girl who had lost touch with reality. I was teased by children and pitied by adults. A change was just what we needed according to my mother. So we moved. We decided there would be no more talk of the past. Everything was fresh and new from that moment on. I had agreed and never spoke another word to her about my time with Trekin. He was never far from my thoughts though. Even though I was now 9 years old I still feared that creature coming for me. I stayed close to people and even after the move slept in the same room as my mother until I was nearly 13 yrs old. I was terrified to be alone. I was right to be.
At age 13 I saw Trekin again. I saw him briefly but I saw him. I was outside in the yard with my little cousin Abby. She was running through the sprinkler and squealing with joy. Every time the cold water touched her it bounced off of her and the sun hit it making it glitter like silver. Back and forth she went and I sat under the tree nearby and watched giggling. I envied her youth. Her innocence. It was something i had lost at age 4 and though I was still just a young girl of 13 my eyes told a different story. My eyes were those of an old lady who had seen much and lived long. Then something else caught my eye. There was something by the tree off to the side of the property. At first I thought it was just the tree but then it moved. My heart skipped a beat and my breath caught in my throat. The smile left my face along with all the color. The thing next to the tree sneered. I saw an enlarged mouth filled with long, sharp, pointy teeth and yellow eyes glowing through small slits in the wooden face. It was HIM. I screamed and passed out.
I could hear someone calling my name and I was sure it was Trekin. I started punching, hitting, thrashing about before I even opened my eyes and I heard “Owwwwww, she hit me.” I stopped and looked around to see my Aunt standing there holding her bloody lip and the rest of the family staring at me like I was a mad woman. I started to apologize immediately but then fear caught me again and I pushed everyone out of my field of vision. I looked at the tree across the yard but Trekin was gone. When everyone asked me what was wrong I apologized again and said it must’ve been the heat was too much for me. My mother helped me into the house and got me some ice water asking if I needed a doctor? I told her no, that I’d be fine but I’ll tell you, I was shaken to my core. Trekin had escaped. Not only that, he had found me. I saw him again a week later and a month after that. He never came close but he always popped up when I least expected it and sneered at me in that sly little smile that said I would pay for escaping.
I started to research pixies. Turns out there were others who had been abducted and escaped their grasp as well. Not many. None currently living. There were a few accounts of their stories in books though. Most of them were pretty similar to mine. One little boy named Jonathan had escaped and then much like myself began seeing his captor later on down the line when he was older. He said for years she, yes a girl pixie although similar in appearance to Trekin, had just popped in almost as if to say hello. He said he had finally come to the conclusion that she could not capture him again. Something about the magic only worked on the mind of children who believed in magic. Once you had matured or lost your innocence the hypnotic music could no longer be heard by your ears and whatever pendant they had used as their key no longer came to life to lure you in. I had brought Trekin’s key with me when I escaped but the police had put it in evidence. Weeks later it had disappeared and was never seen again. I knew he had retrieved it.
As I’ve gotten older though and my mind has grown dimmer, more like that of a child at times, I have sworn I could hear a faint music in the distance. During these episodes I’ve been told I just get up and head off towards the woods as if in a daze. I often awake to one of the nurses here at Wildwood Nursing and Rehabilitation Center shaking me gently and calling my name. It terrifies me because I know that even though Trekin could not get revenge on me all these years ago I have now come full circle back to the innocent mind of a child at times and I know he is just biding his time and waiting for me. I have tried to tell the nurses to please watch me closely. To please not let me go into the woods. I have begged them to please keep me safe from the pixies. They always smile at me and tell me to calm down and not to worry. I worry though. I worry every moment that my thoughts are lucid. I look over to the woods and I see Trekin sometimes. Standing there by the trees and smirking. He hasn’t changed a bit even though I have aged decade after decade.
I fear I shall be gone soon but I wanted someone to know my story. I wanted someone to know that I did not wander off and disappear into the woods. I want someone to know that when I am gone, it is because I have heard that hypnotic music and once again seen that magical little unicorn with the jewel encrusted horn. I want someone to know that I have reached out even though I was scared and touched that horn and that I was then shrunk down and dragged into a doorway. A small doorway in the base of a giant tree. Once there I want someone to know that Trekin will be waiting for me to awaken so that he can torment me before finally lunging at me and sinking those horrible teeth deep into my throat. The last thing I will see is the ceiling of that little dark dome as the blood leaks from my body and I die the death I should have died many moons ago. I know in my heart of hearts that Trekin will look at me laying there on his dirt floor and he will smile that horrendous, crooked, jagged, smile and enjoy his sweet revenge. No one ever truly escapes a pixie. I know that now. No one ever really escapes true evil.
Wait! What’s that I hear? Do you hear it? It’s music. Sweet, melodic music. Like an angel playing a small flute. It’s beautiful. I wonder what it is. I’ll continue this when I return from seeing where it’s coming from. It sounds like it may be coming from that tree over there……………

THE END

Credit: Dawn Marks

A Madman’s Guide to the Unrecommended 2

January 2, 2017 at 12:00 AM
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(EN – You may wish to read A Madman’s Guide to the Unrecommended before continuing)

Hello again, my friend. If you find yourself asking ‘why is this strange person calling me a friend?’ then you’re obviously a bit out of touch… Hello, I’m The Madman and I’m back for round two. I’ll admit that I left you in a rather awkward place, and I must apologize. But there’s something extremely important that I need your help with. It’s in your best interest, if that sweetens the pot.
Last time we met, you were in a different world and I was, well, escaping from it. I hope you woke up and found your way home alright, and if you feel deceived I apologize for the inconvenience. But it was what had to be done, you see. At the very least, my advice and guidance on the supernatural world was no joke or tomfoolery. I knew (and still know) what I was talking about, and I trust you made it through any demonic encounters safely.
I also hope you enjoyed the little treat I put with this book –dark chocolate truffles are your favorite, aren’t they? Look, I know finding a strange manuscript with a baggie of rather expensive Belgian candies in your home wasn’t how you expected your day to go. But as I said; this is very important.
Oh, alright. I guess it’s time to cut to the chase. You released me from a prison of sorts, but something else got out as well. Something very dangerous. If I were to call it something, I’d call it ‘The Devil.’ Don’t laugh. I’m being very serious.
Quincy had indeed found himself smirking in disbelief. He caught himself at The Madman’s words and looked around apprehensively. The Madman knew him a little too well. He shook off his unwarranted paranoia and glanced back at the parchment in his hands.
It’s the best name to give it, honestly. It embodies things you can’t even comprehend –which can be quite a bit many things, but this is just… evil. That’s quite a nice word that has been unfortunately turned to cliché: evil. Look, this thing that you –we– let out isn’t something unique. But it is something dangerous. I know this is all quite sudden, but you don’t have much of a choice. It might even be a bit of fun.
Quincy ate another truffle, beginning to feel a little uneasy. If The Madman was worried about something, that thing was something to be terrified about –but why did The Madman need him specifically?
I need you because you’re the one who was in my… prison with me. Not to get overly technical here, but it has to be you my friend. Please don’t worry; it won’t be very painful–comparatively. Besides, I’ll be with you every step of the way.
Quincy was beginning to feel thoroughly uncomfortable now. He hadn’t signed up for saving the world. In fact, he had resolved to take a break from demons and summoning and the lot. The whole affair had taken a toll that he needed a rest from.
Quincy left the book on his desk and went downstairs for a cup of coffee. The stuff helped him calm down, and a little calm was something that he most definitely needed right now. He went through the actions mechanically: put the filter in the machine, pour in several scoops of ground beans, pour in the water, close it, turn it on. As the machine bubbled and steamed, Quincy’s thoughts did the same. He knew that he didn’t want to get back in any mischief with The Madman, but he didn’t think he had a choice. He was also shocked at the intimacy with which The Madman had been addressing him. The taste of the delicious truffles was now sour and unpleasant. He had been in Quincy’s room. His innermost sanctuary had been invaded. Understandably, Quincy was quite shook up.
The final drops of coffee made their way into the pot. The machine gurgled happily, proud of a job well down. Quincy emptied the liquid into a mug and gulped it down black. The bitterness brought him back to his senses.
Of course he shouldn’t help The Madman. He should burn the book and forget any of it ever happened. He even considered taking out his arsenal of protective items from their hiding place. Maybe if a cold shoulder wasn’t enough to keep The Madman at bay, a sackful of salt was. Quincy set his empty mug down and trudged upstairs, dreading having to face the looming issue above him. He picked up the book, and, in a fit of frustration, threw it across the room. It bounced sadly off the wall and tumbled to land on Quincy’s unmade bed.
“Leave me alone!” Quincy shouted at nobody in particular. Over the next week, Quincy did his best to forget any of it ever happened. He hid the book under a pile of refuse in his closet and tried to remove the word “supernatural” from his vocabulary. The Madman would just have to find somebody else, he told himself.
But The Madman wouldn’t find somebody else. One dreary morning, exactly a week after Quincy had first found the book, The Madman returned. This time, it wasn’t anything as gentle as a note in a book. Quincy woke at the usual time of much-too-early o’clock and fumbled to silence his screeching alarm clock. The early morning glow filtered in through the window. Birds chirped dully outside.
“Hello!” Quincy jumped and fell out of bed at the sudden voice. He scrambled to his feet and backed hastily away from the bed. Looming over the bed was a man. He was tall and handsome, with piercing eyes and a devilish smile. He had a very sharp, handsome jaw line and flawlessly styled hair. “Hope I didn’t startle you,” The Madman said, his smile spreading into a grin. Quincy’s heart dropped to his toes.
“W-wha-” he stammered.
“You look startled –did I startle you?”
“You-”
“Yes?”
“It’s you! The Madman! It really is you!” Quincy managed to stop his stammering and fumbled for his phone. The Madman patted himself in mock surprise.
“It is? Oh, would you look at that! It is me! Good detective work, Quincy. Oh what are you doing?” Quincy had dialed 911 and put the phone to his ear.
“I need the police at-” Quincy didn’t even finish the sentence before the line was cut dead. Static filled Quincy’s ear as he dropped his phone and faced The Madman’s bemused expression.
“What did you do that for?” The Madman asked.
“I told you to leave me alone! I don’t want any part of it!”
“I didn’t want any part of being stuck in an interdimensional prison for six-thousand years, but it happened. Sometimes, things are unfortunately out of your control. This is one of those things.”
“I won’t do it!”
“Don’t be so selfish –this isn’t all about you, you know.”
“Why do you care so much, anyways? You never even told me what I have to do, or exactly what happened.”
“I thought I made it pretty clear!” The Madman carried a note of genuine indignation in his voice.
“‘The Devil’ followed you out of Hell? Clear as day, excuse my ignorance.”
“Yes, it is clear as day!” The Madman seemed genuinely confused.
“Well, not to me.” Quincy said, crossing his arms.
“You saw what demons can do,” The Madman said.
“Firsthand –you taught me how.”
“Yes, well, it’s not pretty, is it?”
“No,” Quincy replied, shuddering involuntarily.
“Well imagine something a thousand times worse. Something you really don’t want to mess with.”
“You’ve said it a hundred times. Why should I care?”
“Do you like living, Quincy?”
“Yes, I like living.”
“Then you should care. Because nobody will be doing much living if you don’t help me.” Quincy was about to reply when The Madman cut him off. “Oh, and it is sort of your fault.”
“What?” Quincy was outraged.
“Well, you know, you were the one who let me out.”
“Don’t you dare blame me! You tricked me! You’re the nasty, manipulative, conniving demon here!”
“Ouch. Harsh. But then again, fair point.” There was a long and awkward silence. “So. Are you in?”
“I don’t have much of a choice, do I?”
“Nope.”
“Can I at least get out of my pajamas?”
“As long as you get into something else,” The Madman said distastefully. “Besides, I have to do a little hunting. Be back soon!” Before Quincy could react, The Madman was gone with all the noise of a snowflake falling onto a feather pillow.
Quincy wanted to believe it was all a dream –just a fantastic, ludicrous dream– but he knew it wasn’t. With a sense of great and dawning responsibility, Quincy dressed himself appropriately for saving the world. Two old sneakers, one pair of jeans with holes in both knees, and a college football jersey later, he was ready.
The next step was to retrieve his protective items. Quincy opened his closet and withdrew the gimmicky wooden chest in which he had stuffed all the materials he needed for summoning. He laid them out carefully: a large Ziploc gallon-bag of sea salt, an assortment of red wax candles, and collection of heirlooms that served as items of power. Like a hunter choosing the perfect arrow, Quincy selected his item. It was a plain gold ring on a plain gold chain. A relatively unremarkable trinket to look at, but it had belonged to Quincy’s grandmother, and had been in the family for generations.
“Is that a Ziploc bag?” The now familiar voice cut through Quincy’s remembrance.
“You have to stop doing that! Learn to knock!” Quincy turned as he retorted to see The Madman looking down at him with amusement.
“Your salt. It’s in a big old plastic baggie.”
“Yes, so?”
“Oh, nothing. It’s just a little sketchy, is all.”
“It’s all I had!”
“If you say so. Ah good, your item of power. That’s a strong one –I can feel it from here.”
“Are you sure it isn’t sketchy?” Quincy said bitterly.
“What’s with all the attitude? I found us a lead, by the way.”
“That was fast.”
“Don’t insult me. Did you hear about any disasters lately? Any huge, extremely destructive, fatal disasters?”
“There was a fire in some shopping mall that was on the news. Lots of people died –why?”
“Well, that wasn’t coincidence. Up for a little field trip?” And with that, The Madman strode out of the room with Quincy jogging to keep up.
“I didn’t pack the salt!” Quincy complained as they bounced down the stairs.
“Do you really think a thirty cent bag of cooking salt will save you from the Devil himself?”
“It would have made me feel better!”
“Sorry. I don’t care about your feelings that much. Do you have a car?”
The drive to the burnt-out mall was a long, awkward one. It was extremely strange to see The Madman sitting in an old 2002 Toyota Camry, fiddling with the window. He didn’t seem to belong.
“Could you stop doing that, please?” Quincy asked in irritation after The Madman had rolled the window up and down for the hundredth time.
“Oh, is it bothering you?” Quincy gripped the steering wheel harder. “I’ll take that as a yes,” The Madman continued, rolling the window up pointedly.
“I can’t go any farther, there’s a police line.” Quincy stopped the car several feet away from the hefty fortification of yellow tape and white wooden barricades. There were several police cars parked with their flashing sirens spinning silently. Officers stood stolidly, barking at pedestrians and news crews to stand back. Beyond laid a scene of utter carnage: the old mall’s parking lot had been turned into a dead border between the charred and melted carcass of the building and the healthy land beyond.
Quincy had seen the mall on the news, but in person it was much more terrible. He couldn’t shake the knowledge that over a dozen people had been burned alive in the fire, their ashes mingling with the rubble of their tomb. ‘Faulty wiring,’ the news report had said.
The Madman stepped out of the car confidently and began to approach the police line. Quincy leaned out of his window and called after him.
“Where are you going?”
“Come on, we’re going to take a look.”
“But there’re cops-” The Madman ignored Quincy and continued walking. Reluctantly, Quincy followed.
“I don’t think I can even park there,” Quincy complained. Once again, he was ignored.
“Hello, officer.” The Madman had grabbed the attention of the nearest police officer.
“I’ll have to ask you to stand back, sir. The area’s not safe.” The officer’s tone made it clear that he didn’t want to be dealing with the Madman at that moment. He eyed up the strange man in front of him.
“Yes, of course. Just one thing, if I may.” The Madman put a hand on the officer’s shoulder. Quincy jumped in his seat and scrambled out of the car.
“Hey! What are-” Before Quincy could complete his sentence, the policeman was smiling at the Madman jovially.
“You take as much as time as you need sir,” he said, docking his cap. “Your friend too,” he continued, glancing over the Madman’s shoulder at Quincy.
“I wouldn’t say he’s my friend, but thank you anyway! Come on, Quincy.” The Madman swept past the officer and ducked under the caution tape. Quincy jogged to keep up. As he passed the cop, he noticed a dopey smile on the man’s face. His eyes were glazed over and skated over Quincy as if he wasn’t there.
“What did you do to that cop?” Quincy asked as he caught up to the Madman, who was gazing at the ruined mall pensively.
“Hm?”
“You did something to him, he’s all loopy now.”
“I did do something, you’re right. I don’t know how you’re always so observant Quincy.” The Madman’s voice was loaded with enough sarcasm to floor an elephant. Quincy gritted his teeth and glanced back at the officer.
“Will he be okay?” Quincy asked.
“Who cares? Look at those burn marks…”
“Will he be okay?” Quincy said again, in a more slow and pointed manner.
“Yes, he’ll be fine. You should be more worried about yourself. Have you seen that shopping mall?” Quincy turned his full attention to the destruction in front of him. Up close, it was an even more gruesome sight.
“Are those-”
“Body parts, yes. Ooh, look, somebody dropped something.” The Madman bent over and picked something up from a pile of shattered concrete and held it up. Quincy almost vomited –it was a human finger with a diamond wedding ring perched below the second knuckle.
“Put that down! God, show some respect.” Quincy turned his attention away from the Madman and attempted to find something to distract himself. “What are we even looking for?”
“Clues. We’re looking for clues.”
“Isn’t that what cops are for?” Quincy looked back at the officer, who was now loading and unloading his gun while giggling, as if he were a fascinated child. “Are you sure that guy will be okay?”
“Yes. And I dare you to go and ask a detective if he has any leads on the evil demon. I’m not stopping you.”
“Point taken. Have you seen anything?”
“Not yet. But almost…”
“You haven’t even moved, and I think we’re attracting attention.”
“I’m not looking with my eyes.” The Madman could sense Quincy’s question coming. “Don’t worry about it. Look, just keep everyone away. I’m almost done.” Quincy glanced nervously at the police line. A couple reporters were talking to the befuddled police officer, who had dropped his gun and was now chewing on his badge. At least they’re focused on him, Quincy thought. At least they had made a good news story. Quincy could imagine the next day’s headlines: “Police Officer Gone Insane at Mall Massacre.”
“Got it!” The Madman turned to face Quincy. He did not look very happy.
“You know where it is?”
“Yes.”
“What? Wasn’t that the goal? To find out where it went?”
“Yes, but it’s here.”
“Here?! What do we do?”
“Hold on! I’m trying to think. It must be in the wreckage, but why has it stayed?”
“Are you really asking me?”
“Of course not! Just shut up for a second, there’s more.” The Madman dashed closer to the ruined building, stretching his hand out searchingly. Quincy, shocked, remained rooted to the spot. His attention had been drawn by a scuffle over by his car. The officer who The Madman had touched was being brought to the ground by two of his fellows. They hauled him up and dragged him to a newly-arrived ambulance. He kicked and giggled loudly as he was thrown into the car. Three more officers came over, and attempted to disperse the agitated press. One of the cops glanced over towards the building. As he did, he spotted The Madman and Quincy.
“Hey!” the officer yelled loudly. He pulled his radio to his mouth and said something into it. The other two officers turned, startled by the cry. They saw Quincy and set off towards him, shouting at him to halt. Quincy swallowed hard and began running towards The Madman.
“Company!” The Madman saw the approaching men and cursed loudly.
“Now I have to kill them!”
“What? No! Let’s just go!” Quincy grabbed The Madman’s arm and pulled him towards the building. The Madman reluctantly broke into a run that matched Quincy’s.
“I don’t think you want to go in there,” The Madman said darkly.
“Better than being arrested,” Quincy replied, They reached the looming husk of charred metal that was once a pizza restaurant and entered. The building had collapsed in such a way that the interior of the shop was almost cave-like in nature. The outside light, though mere feet away, didn’t seem to penetrate very far into the inky gloom ahead. Suddenly, the sound of grating metal and cracking plaster came as the doorway collapsed. Unseen bits of dust and pebbles of concrete dribbled onto Quincy’s head. Instinctively, he reached out to feel for The Madman.
“Hey!” Quincy’s hand had connected with The Madman’s back. “Oh, it’s just you.”
“Did I scare you?” Quincy teased, trying to ward off a growing sense of terror. The Madman ignored him and instead muttered something under his breath. A spark flashed in the dark. It caught and exploded into a crackling orange flame, flooding the room with a warm light. Quincy could see that The Madman held the fire in his naked palm like a torch.
“You really got us into a mess here,” The Madman said drily. “Can you feel it?” Quincy swallowed hard and nodded. There was an overpowering sense of dread in the air. It was unnatural and off-putting. Quincy felt as if he was on the brink of bursting into shivers, or fleeing for any possible exit. Ahead lay only blackness; a darkness laden with an unseen horror.
“I feel it,” Quincy whispered.
“Stay close. Don’t trust anything you see in there, Quincy. Nothing.” The Madman raised the fire. They could see the door to the main mall space, which had been spared the fire’s wrath. Past the soot-covered entrance, however, nothing but silky black could be revealed.
“We’re going in there?”
“We can’t go back. It’s not letting us.”
“Why did you let me go in here if you knew this would happen?”
“Right, blame me if it makes you feel better.” Quincy didn’t reply. He was seized by another wave of anxiety and panic that he had to fight to control.
“Let’s just go,” Quincy said through gritted teeth. “Let’s just get out of here,” he continued, more quietly this time. The Madman took the lead, stepping one hesitant foot into the pool of ink ahead. The safe glow from his palm was almost useless; it was as if the tendrils of darkness were snuffing the flame like so many reaching, clawing fingers.
“Follow the light, and follow it close.” With that final vocation, The Madman disappeared into the void. The light, which Quincy had been looking at eagerly, was suddenly gone. Quincy’s heart dropped to his shoes. He took several steps after The Madman, reaching his hands out in a vain attempt to make contact.
“Hey! Wait up!” Quincy’s voice sounded faded and muffled. It was almost like he was surrounded by a thick curtain. He couldn’t see anything. “Come back!” Quincy’s voice broke. The cry was more of a plea –Quincy was beginning to panic. His resolve failed, and he decided to get back to the pizza restaurant. He had only taken a few steps into the mall, after all.
Quincy turned, took a step, and promptly ran into a hard obstacle. His forehead collided with a slab of concrete –a wall. A sob escaped him. That wall wasn’t there before, there was supposed to be a doorway. Had he gotten lost in the dark? He spun, hands grasping at the dark, hoping to find something –anything– that would bring him to salvation.
My phone! The revelation came like bolt of lightning. Quincy fumbled at his jeans, trying to fish his cell phone from his pockets. He grasped it, turned on its flashlight, and swung it up. As he did so, an unseen hand grabbed the phone and jerked it into the dark with inhuman speed. The light, like The Madman’s fire, was extinguished. Quincy’s heart stopped. He fell to the floor, breathing so hard and fast he thought his lungs would burst. What was that? What… what was..oh, God, what- His thoughts raced at an impossible tempo, leaving him incapable of rational thought. He remained there for what seemed like an eternity; hyperventilating on the cold floor, trying desperately to see what could not be seen through the shroud that covered his every sense.
Quincy had never experienced true terror. He was no stranger to fear, but what gripped his heart now was different than fear. He could feel it, taste it, smell it; a festering, ancient sense of utter dread. He was alone, oh so alone. A pattering of footsteps sounded from behind Quincy. They clicked and scuttled, thudded and squelched. It was almost as if each step belonged to a different creature. Quincy’s imagined what could be making the noises and began to shake violently. Cold sweat covered his entire body. The steps came again. They tapped closer and closer until they stopped just in front of Quincy. He whimpered involuntarily, trying fruitlessly to see what was in front of him.
Tap. The thing was coming. Tap. With each slow footstep, Quincy felt his sanity slip farther and farther away. He wanted to run, to stand, to kick out and yell, but he couldn’t move so much as a finger. Tap tap. It was right on top of him. Quincy squeezed his eyes shut instinctively, waiting for the moment of impact.
“Hey!” Quincy opened his eyes. He was met with a painful orange blaze. He shut his eyes again and put his hand up in front of his face.
“Madman?”
“I told you to stay close, what are you doing on the floor?” The Madman glared down at Quincy critically. Quincy fought down the urge to let out a sob of relief. He stood and dusted himself off shakily.
“I felt tired, wanted to take a nap,” he said, trying to distract himself from the shock of what had just happened.
“Get up, and don’t make jokes. This place isn’t very funny,” The Madman dragged Quincy up by the arm. Quincy was surprised at The Madman’s seriousness.
“Do you know where we’re going?”
“Sort of, just follow me and don’t lose me this time. Hold my shirt if you have to.” The Madman began walking again, barely giving Quincy enough time to grab his shoulder and follow. They continued in silence, skirting any obstacles that they came to. Quincy felt much safer in the company of The Madman, yet he still felt the underlying unease that seemed to infest the entire building.
They walked for what seemed like an eternity. Each minute that passed felt like an hour. Quincy’s nerves were still rubbed raw, yet nothing else happened. The ruined mall was completely silent. Suddenly, The Madman stopped moving. Quincy bumped into him roughly and staggered back.
“Ow. What’s going on?” The Madman gave no response. “Hey, did you find something?” Quincy asked, louder this time. Again, there was nothing but eerie silence. Quincy began to feel scared.
“Quincy, isn’t it?” The Madman’s voice sounded bored, disinterested.
“What?”
“Your name, it’s Quincy. Or am I wrong?”
“No –are you crazy? What’s gotten into you?”
“Is that why they call me The Madman? Am I crazy?” Suddenly, The Madman whirled onto Quincy. He held the ball of flame out threateningly, illuminating his face from the bottom. Quincy stepped back in shock –The Madman’s face was contorted evilly, his usually handsome jawline was tightened and twisted into a leering snarl.
“Wha-” Quincy tried to speak, but fear closed his throat.
“Am I crazy?” The Madman repeated slowly, putting a dangerous emphasis on each word.
“No, I wouldn’t say so,” Quincy said nervously, taking another step back.
“It’s very scary in here, isn’t it?”
“If this is your idea of a joke, I want to remind you we have more important things to be doing,” Quincy finally found the resolve to feel angry.
“More important things…” The Madman repeated the words, musing over them thoughtfully. “Like hunting the Devil?” In an instant, The Madman was gone. In his place was an impossibly black silhouette. Quincy’s heart stopped. There was no way he should be able to see whatever it was that had taken The Madman’s place. The fire had been extinguished and there was absolutely no light, yet the thing before him was darker than the blackness that surrounded it. It was like a void, creating a stark contrast with the very fabric of reality.
“You’re not The Madman,” Quincy whispered hoarsely. He was at a complete and terrified loss for words.
“Did you figure that out yourself, Quincy?” The creature bent forward, lowering its ragged head to look Quincy in the eyes.
“Where is he?” Quincy said in an even meeker tone. He could sense an overwhelming power emanating from whatever was before him. He didn’t have to be told that he was completely powerless to protect himself.
“That is a good question. Why are you here, Quincy? What did he say to you to convince you to come here with him?”
“He said I had to, to save to world.” Quincy answered without thinking, like he was forced to speak.
“The entire world? He thinks rather highly of me… Do you think I could destroy the world, Quincy?”
“I don’t know,” Quincy replied truthfully, if not against his will. “What are you?” As soon as the words left Quincy’s mouth, everything changed to sudden brightness. The darkness that had so greedily clung to every available space was, in an instant, gone. Quincy found that he was standing in the middle of the destroyed mall. Large beams of sunlight spilled down from the ruined roof above. They gloomily illuminated the sad, charred, and empty skeletons of shops, fountains, and planters. Quincy automatically looked around for any of the horrors his mind had created earlier, but there was nothing to be seen.
“What am I?” The question drew Quincy’s attention back to the creature. To his surprise, the looming dark monster was gone. In his place sat a child, raven-haired and pale-faced. The boy looked up at Quincy and smiled hollowly. “Surely, The Madman told you what I am,” the child stood, smiling thinly at Quincy. As Quincy watched, the boy changed grotesquely, his spine arching rapidly and his short black hair growing and graying at an alarming rate. His face, once youthful, chiseled with age. Canyons of wrinkles now sprouted from the corner of his eyes and crept down his face to loose, thin jowls that hung off his tight lips.
“The Devil,” Quincy whispered, his voice muted with terror.
“No,” the creature crooned, its youthful voice now a wizened croak, “I’m your worst nightmare.” It took a step forward, smiling wide, wide, until half of its decrepit face was swallowed up in that evil smile.
“Cliché, boring –overall a 3/10.” The creature paused its charge. Quincy recognized the voice, but he dared not look away from that smile. The Madman stepped into view behind the creature, chin up, shoulders squared, and a look of refined smugness on his face. The creature’s eyes never left Quincy’s.
“I was about to have some fun,” it said with the tone of a child made to go to bed early. The change in voice was so sudden that Quincy nearly looked around for the newcomer. In an instant, the creature was a young boy again. “I was about to have so much fun!” It said furiously, whirling on The Madman.
“It’s time to go home.” The Madman said coolly.
“It’s time to go home,” the boy mocked. “Maybe it is time. On the other hand, maybe it isn’t!” The boy screeched like a banshee and leapt at The Madman like a crazed wolf. They fell to the ground together, writhing and twisting like a knot of snakes. Quincy watched, dumbfounded. He wanted desperately to run, but something kept him transfixed. He watched the bizarre fight: boy against man.
With a heave, The Madman threw the boy off, sending him skidding across the ruined tiles. The Madman reached into his jacket a pulled something out. It caught the light, Quincy gasped. It was the mirror which he had buried when he had read The Madman’s guide.
“Quincy, take this!” The Madman tossed the mirror to Quincy, who caught it with a fumble.
“What? Why?” Quincy glanced over at the boy, who was starting to get up. He was changing, growing taller and thinner as he peeled himself off the ground.
“No time for stupid questions! When I say so, break that mirror!” The boy was now fully standing, but he was a boy no longer. It was as if some great hand had stretched his pale limbs like taffy. His hands, attached to boneless wrists, coiled on the floor. His neck teetered under his head, which was now several feet higher in the air.
The monstrosity flailed its arms towards The Madman and screeched as it broke into a loping, uneven charge. The Madman met the beast at a full sprint. Once again they clashed, but this time The Madman was engulfed in a tangle of tentacle-like limbs. A series of cracks sounded, and The Madman yelled out in pain: “Now, Quincy! Break it now!”
Quincy brought the mirror down on the ground with all the force he could muster. It shattered into a million shards and threw them in every direction. Quincy looked up, only to see that the ruins of the mall were empty. The Madman and his assailant were nowhere to be seen.
A sudden flash of white-hot pain flashed behind Quincy’s eyes. He fell to the floor, clutching his temples and groaning. From somewhere floated an echo of a voice. Quincy looked around, trying to figure out who was speaking, but seeing nobody. The pain came again, this time greater in intensity. Quincy screamed out loud, scrabbling uselessly against his own skull.
“Dismiss me!” the voice came again, more clearly. It was The Madman, but it seemed to come from within Quincy’s throbbing head. “Say the words! Quick, Quincy, now!” The frantic urgency in The Madman’s voice goaded Quincy to his feet. The world around him spun, but he fought to keep his balance.
“I will you to leave this place! Go from whence you came!” Quincy yelled out into the ruined mall. Silence followed. It was a pure silence, like the calm that comes when the final raindrop has fallen, when the last bolt of lightning has been cast. Quincy dropped to his knees. “Madman?” he said weakly. There was no reply, and no more pain. Mercifully, Quincy fell into unconsciousness.
. . .
Quincy woke in his own bed. He thought about the strange nightmare he had just had. The memories trickled in slowly, still shrouded in obscurity. His heart began to hammer. None of it was a nightmare; he had been in that mall.
“Calm down, kid.” Quincy then noticed the figure in the corner of the room. It was The Madman, leaning against the wall nonchalantly. “You’re fine. It’s over.”
“The Devil, you fought it, you disappeared-”
“Yes.” The Madman was very matter-of-fact.
“That’s all you have to say? What the hell happened? Where is it?”
“It’s back where it was.” The Madman’s voice adopted a tone of sadness. “And, as it seems, so am I. You’re dreaming, Quincy. But you’ll wake up soon enough.”
“Why did you tell me to break that mirror? Are you going to tell me what really happened?”
“No, that’d take far too long and I don’t think you’d understand it. I’ll give you the quick version, though. When you read my guide and freed me from that painting, I became tied to you. It wasn’t that different from a normal summoning, really. The mirror was a part of the ritual; it was my anchor to your world. But the thing that followed me out, it was also tied to you –to the mirror.”
“Breaking the mirror broke the summons.” Quincy said, understanding. “That’s why I could dismiss you –both of you.”
“Yes.”
“But you’re stuck again, with that thing?”
“Yes.”
“Well way to waste my time! I went through all sorts of hell to get you out, and then went through some more just to put you back!”
“Go ahead, throw a pity party. You’re alive, at least.”
“Aren’t you upset? You know, being a prisoner again and all.”
“I shouldn’t have ever left. I have to be here. You wouldn’t understand why.”
“To keep an eye on whatever followed you out?”
“Yes, something like that.” The Madman crossed to Quincy and put out a hand. “We aren’t going to see each other again. I want you to burn my guide and forget this demon business. I have no idea how you’ve survived this long, but it would be a shame to see you die. You’ve been so very entertaining.” Quincy took The Madman’s hand and shook it.
“It’s certainly been something. Bye, Madman.” Quincy didn’t want to dawdle with pleasantries. He wanted to be home safe as fast as possible.
“Goodbye, Quincy.” With that, Quincy woke. He was still on the floor of the ruined mall, alone. Two police officers stood over him, shining their flashlights into his face.
“Kid, what the hell are you doing in here?” one of the officers asked.
“Long story,” Quincy muttered, vowing never to so much as say the word “demon” ever again.

Credit: Daniel Zaturensky

Stonehenge

December 30, 2016 at 12:00 AM
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Stonehenge is one of the great mysteries of our world. Erected almost six-thousand years ago, these ten-ton slabs of stone make up one of the seven wonders of ancient times. But how did it get there, and why?

—-

Nan’uk stepped cautiously on the grass, his footsteps carefully muffled. The lone hunter had been stalking his prey for hours, the animal still unaware of his presence. It gazed around the plains before returning to graze in the tall grass, its shiny coat shivering slightly as it did. Nan’uk crept ever closer, the grass making a soft shushing sound, masking his presence in the wind. The blazing golden-yellow of the grass seemed to shine under the harsh sun. He looked around before noticing a small bead of water running down his forehead. Sweat. He knew he had to get out of the plains and into the shade before heat exhaustion and dehydration wore him down, but it seemed such a shame to waste all that time tracking an animal just to give up. Just a little while longer; he had to get some food for his tribe. Coming home empty-handed meant that he wouldn’t eat tonight, making the hunt tomorrow even tougher. He grunted, venting out hot air from his nose. He would succeed today, even if it meant risking death to do so.

The animal had run to a large plain just over the hill. Nan’uk stalked it slowly, making sure to stay below the grass so as not to be spotted and ruin his chance of making the kill. The animal, only about a hundred meters off, would be spooked if he got too close. Simply going across this hill was probably be enough to scare it off, but he needed a clear shot. He drew his bow off his shoulder, and took out one of the few arrows he had. Coming to the breast of the hill, he nocked the arrow, and drew his bow. He breathed out, a long stream air blowing from his lungs, before letting the arrow fly. It made a whistling sound as it streaked through the air, and hit its target straight in the side. The beast fell over, a burst of blood discolouring the grass below. Nan’uk grinned, the adrenaline from a shot on target bursting through him. He threw caution to the wind, and sprinted down the hill towards his target. It would be easy to make a coup de grace this time, the animal was already beginning to die. He drew his spear, the bullreed strap sliding off him smoothly. His kill lowered its head as he arrived, and he decided that the final blow would be unnecessary. He grabbed its leg, and began to drag it off before he noticed something.

In the distance, about four or five-hundred meters away, there was a structure of some kind.

Ignoring everything else, he started off towards the monument, dragging his kill cumbersomely along behind him. The animal weighed more than it ever seemed to when it was alive, making the relatively short walk seem like a monumental hike, but hell if he were going to miss this. His footsteps making a soft shuk-shuk sound as he walked, he carried on to the monument. The grass swayed in the wind, though as he came closer, he noticed that the grass seemed to gradually flatten down, as if bowing down to a mighty being. He smiled, before setting down his prey and turning around; up close, the monumental structure seemed even more unbelievable than it had in the distance. He gazed upward at it, shielding his eyes from the blazing sun with his large, hairy hand. His jagged fingernails created a strange shadow over his face, as he held his ever wavering hand up to the light. The rock pillars of the structure glared dully down on him, as if to say ‘go away’. This palace, Nan’uk realized, was meant for something bigger. Ignoring this, and all other instincts telling him to run, in a haze of morbid curiosity, he stepped into the ring.

Inside, Nan’uk could see everything about this place. It was a large circle, its edges defined by stone slabs standing upright like dominos, holding up other slabs on top of them. The dark grey pillars cast glaring shadows down into the middle of the circle, making the shape of a crescent moon. He walked up to a single pillar, his eyes darting around the place, as if to watch for something that wasn’t there. The way the grass bent down towards the center of the circle before wholly disappearing, the way the sun seemed to brighten nearer to the middle of the circle, everything about it offset him… just a little bit. Still, he had to know more about this place, more about the way it worked, enough to explain away everything strange about it. He wanted, no, needed to know more. He came up to a stone pillar. The smooth stone seemed to glow in the mid afternoon sun, the heat almost radiated off of the stone. He looked at it, before cautiously reaching his hand out.

Then, he touched it.

Every bone in his body screamed out with pain, creating a single, wavering howl. He drew his hand away, and staggered backwards, the pain still wracking his body. Waves of it washed over him like seas washing over rock; the frothing agony viciously attacked him, making him fall heavily onto his stomach before losing consciousness. He closed his eyes for the final time before all the life drained away from him.

A mortal had desecrated their meeting place. They could no longer go where they had gone so many times to discuss great matters that a mind like that human’s could never understand. They had worked tirelessly for years upon years to put this planet in perfect balance, to try to help its pitiful creatures reach the pinnacle of art, philosophy and science, but that was all gone now. It was a shame to lose so much from a simple man, running his hand along a stone pillar. Ah, well. They still had many more tries to get this right. Time and nature would wear away this place now that it was no longer protected. It would be interesting to see where the creatures of this planet went without help, but that would be a matter for later. For now, they simply had to find a new place to go.

—-

Stonehenge. A meeting place of the gods. The great stone slabs decorating the land weren’t put there by mortal man, but rather by god. So why, you ask, do they no longer answer our prayers? That’s simple. They’ve moved on. We are but one in a line of many, and they have long forgotten us since.

Credit: Derpyspaghetti

The Maiden and the Lost Villagers

December 29, 2016 at 12:00 AM
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The young maiden knelt amongst the rubble and smoldering wreckage that was once her simple home. Smoke plumed into the sky and ash hung thick in the air. It stung her eyes, but that was not the cause for the tears streaming down her cheeks. She was in mourning. The day before last, she had departed the group of refugees and returned to her village, determined to find the bodies of her father and three brothers. It was her duty to anoint their brows with consecrated oil and bid them farewell into the afterlife. Her father and brothers were among the few who bravely stayed behind to hold off the enemy, providing precious time for her people on the East end of town to escape the massacre that fell upon the village. Her distraught heart was filled with confusion for, upon her arrival, not a single corpse was there to find.

The sacked village lay deserted and barren, smoldering from fire and flame. Although the smoke billowed over the ground, not a single body could her eyes see. The enemy had attacked from the North under the cover of night. They slaughtered everything in sight. Neither man, woman, or child was spared. Yet, no bodies laid on the ground. No crows feasted on the corpses that should be plenty. The words of the old widow Me’heethlo came to mind. She was fond of spinning tales about the enemy. Tales the maiden believed were meant to frighten young children into obedience once it was time to remain in bed.

She surveyed the ruins. It was dark and hazy with no hint of life. “Once a joyful habitat, this was,” She thought with sorrow. Curiously, she took notice of the grimy layer of soot that covered everything within the burnt-out village. She ran a single finger through the begrimed sludge and saw that it did not give the appearance of ordinary ash, but of mold that grew in the dark and damp places of old. “This is not of nature’s making,” she thought. “This is rot and decay I walk upon!”

The edges of the mold were of the deepest black with hints of green, but on top of its center grew white and gray fuzzy hair that vibrated ever so lightly. If it were not for the irritation from the smoke, she would have sworn the mold and mildew were growing and stretching out before her very eyes.

The crackling of burning wood filled the air, then without warning it vanished. All the surrounding flames immediately were extinguished as if inhaled by an unseen giant. The mold congealed upon itself forming vines and tendrils. They writhed on the ground before her feet, encapsulating and covering all within its reach. A soft hiss emerged from the ruins. A dense gas swirled and rose into the air from oval and lipped mouths that pimpled the surface of the thicker limbs. It flowed like a liquid upon the soil and clawed up the scorched beams like an animal searching for prey.

The maiden brandished her broadsword with speed and skill, for having been the daughter of a great blacksmith and the youngest sibling to three boys, she knew the ways of steel better than most. The hiss grew louder as it permeated the terrain. She backed out of the remains of her home, defenses at the ready and eyes keen to any movement in her field of vision.

Cracking and snapping broke the silence as the mist billowed and rolled. It reminded the maiden of the breaking of tree branches from the ice storms that raged during past winter seasons. However, this was different. These cracks and snaps were from something wet and moist. The snaps and splits grew more severe and frequent with every moment. It arose from all directions. It abruptly reached climax and then all was quiet.

The maiden gripped the hilt of her sword tightly. She held the mighty blade over her head in a defensive position, ready to take the head off any foe or adversary who would stand against her. She kept this stance in silence and stillness. The girl did not grow weary from the heaviness of the blade for it was the perfect weight for her. It had been a present from her father and created just for her and no one else.

Broken was the silence from harsh, raspy breaths of lungs filled with fluid and phlegm. The ground heaved upward and separated from wet hands that stretched up to the sky. The lost villagers had returned! Worms and maggot still feasted on the dead and rotting flesh. Scabs tore free from wounds that would never heal and spilled pus onto the ground. The poor creatures dragged themselves out from their resurrection holes. Disorientated, they tottered and stumbled, but the scent of the young girl quickly filled their nostrils and filled them with desire and rage.

Concealed within to burned wood, a lost villager fell upon the startled girl and bit down on her neck with a ravenous ferocity. To her surprise, its teeth did not tear her skin. The bite hurt terribly, but its teeth felt soft and mushy within its clenched jaw. Several more of the lost villagers slashed at her with thin, pointed fingers, and again they felt flimsy and lacking any rigidity in their blows. The answer to this riddle quickly flashed in her mind, “Newly risen are these foul beasts! Their hides had not the time to harden!” she thought.

In a high overhead arc, she cleaved the lost villager that stood before her in two with her sword. With the blade’s hilt, she struck the one that held her from behind in the throat and smashed its face into a stone wall. Another lunged at her and held her by the throat in an iron grip. She brought her sword up, twisted and separated its hands from its wrists. In one graceful motion, she twirled and took off the top portion of the creature’s skull. An unseen villager, a child, scurried on the ground and locked its arms around her leg. It bit down hard, and she shrieked in pain as she saw blood trickle from the decayed child’s mouth. She brought her blade down hard and drove its tip completely through the child’s head and buried it deep into the wooden floor.

Crinkling and cracking from drying skin and hardening hides filled her ears; she knew time was running out. The girl scanned the area for a means to escape. In the distance, she saw her only hope. An old windmill stood a short distance away. In the absence of any clear path to escape upon, its sturdy walls and a thick door would provide shelter for her immediate safety. She sprinted with all her might towards the haven. She would have made it too were it not for the ground opening up below her feet.

She fell hard, sword clanging out of her grip. Wet and cold hands clutched and pulled her deeper into the maw of the dark hole. Further and further she slid. She clawed at the edges of the hole, but the soggy soil slipped through her fingers. She turned, and four faces stared back at her from the shadow of the muddy pit. For the briefest of moments, she saw a familiar shade of green in each of its eyes, a shade of green, much like her own. There was such great sadness in those faces and a glistening of tears in each one’s eyes. As quickly as it had come, blackness and mildewed film consumed all hint of color and humanity. The grasps of those gnarled hands tightened, and the fair maiden screamed in terror.

High in the night sky, a strange, high-pitched whirring emerged from the night. The sound was melodic and beautiful. The struggling maiden turned from the dead faces and snapping jaws she held at bay and saw a twirling diamond of light approach from the corner of her eye. It streaked across the night, ricocheted off a heap of stones and shot towards the girl in a downward trajectory. It spiraled missing the girl’s neck by a hair and slashed through each creature without resistance, separating their heads from shoulder. The maiden followed the mysterious spinning diamond of light with her eyes. It flew high into the sky and began to descend towards the ground in a large arc until it came to rest in the hands of a boy.

The boy couldn’t have been more than fifteen to sixteen years of age. He stood gallantly, wearing thin and light silver armor. The object he held in his gloved hand was a diamond-shaped disk with three blades that retracted into itself. He secured the disk to his gauntlet and drew his sword. In that instant, it appeared the mist quivered at the sight of this mighty sword. She watched him run head-first into the approaching lost villagers. Her keen eye saw that the boy was well-trained, but lacked experience on the battlefield. Still, the lost villagers were no match for his blade and amazing diamond disk.

In the distance, she saw another young boy wearing the garb of a squire enter the town square. Accompanied was he by six fearsome warriors, four men, and two women. They raised their spears and blades high above their heads and charged forward with a loud and magnificent battle cry.

The young maiden recalled the stories from the widow and the songs from the minstrels and bards. “Could the tales be true?” she thought. All the whispers and songs retold and sung. Was there more to those words she pondered? Could it be true? The prophecy of the Day of the Worm.

From within the mist, hordes of decayed creatures descended upon the small band of knights. Hissing and spitting filled the air. The sharp clang of steel against hardened exoskeleton echoed across the barren village. The monsters fell upon the warriors from rooftops. They leaped into the air and crawled on the walls. The beasts flanked their victims with lethal precisions. The green mist swirled and surged, blinding all caught within its wake.

The young warrior approached the maiden. With a smile, he offered her his hand and said, “My lady, how did one so beautiful such as yourself come to find herself in such a dire predicament?”

She was dumbfounded and in shock at the massacre she just witnessed. She stood aghast at the nonchalant demeanor the boy displayed for the loss of his comrades in arms. She had never seen such disregard for life or such dismissal of loyalty those brave souls must have shown for this child. Puzzled, rage built within her soul. She shouted, “But..but your friends just perished before our very eyes, and you did nothing. Do you not have any…?”

His smile grew wider than before, and the boy said, “My dear, you lay before the Warriors of the Six Realms. The other was a squire to my father and champion to my mother. If any one of them were incapable fending off a pitiful pack of flaccid Deadlings, they would have no place at my side.” With a slash, the squire’s dagger slashed through the air releasing a burst of golden light. The malignant mist evaporated into nothingness underneath its rays. In the clearing, the squire stood brandishing a brilliant blade. By his side stood two young women of no more than twenty years of age. Each held a short sword in reverse grip and wore gauntlets of silver and blue steel. The four men guarded the rear—an elderly man, a slightly aged man, and two young twins. At their feet laid the slashed and cut corpses of the villagers.

A second wave of the Deadlings came at the Warriors like a black wave of water. Their hard skin was glistening in the moonlight. Each of the women warriors took on two foes, blocking slashes from lethal fingers with their gauntlets and stabbing decayed flesh with their blades.

The old man held a menacing dory spear, capped at the rear with a heavy spike. His hair was long, white and braided. Interwoven into the braided hair’s end was a silver marble. Swings of the spear and snaps of his neck severed heads and crushed skulls.

The twins each carried a sword. One brother bore a kopis—a thick, curved saber. The other carried a xiphos—a straight double edged sword. They guarded each other’s flank and worked as one, anticipating each other’s actions. The middle-aged man was blind and held a curved dagger in each hand. He slashed throats and severed limbs with the precision of any sighted soldier.

The young warrior spoke with a boyish playfulness and offered his hand to her once more, “Forgive me, my lady. I am normally quite shy about things such as this and find rejection quite devastating. However, in this case, I will risk the embarrassment and shame.”

With a sly grin upon his face, he held up her sword and said, “Would you care to dance with me?” The maiden saw the dark figures moving in the shadows; she looked into the eyes of this mysterious young warrior and felt a stirring she could not deny. She smiled and took hold of her sword and said, “Yes good sir. Nothing more would please me.”

The End

Author’s note: The Maiden and the Lost Villager is meant to be a companion to the story “Day of the Worm.” Although the plot of TMATLV is adequately contained in itself with hints thrown in at a larger world, it reads well as a stand-alone fairy tale. However, its true intent is to build upon the beautiful and rich world that was created in “Day of the Worm.”

Credit: Killahawke1

The Facility

December 15, 2016 at 12:00 AM
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It only took her a moment to figure out that this wasn’t where she wanted to be. The paint chipped and wallpaper peeled down as if bowing its head in resignation to the dilapidated state of the facility. She walked gingerly up the hall, dodging the debris that lay scattered across the yellowed laminate floor. An old, rusted wheelchair sat propped against a side door that led to nothing but darkness, as far as she could tell as she passed it. A pair of crutches leaned against the jamb of another door to her right, this one wide open to a room much more visible in the diminishing daylight. She made her way cautiously toward that door, nearly tripping over a loose section of flooring. When she got to the doorway, she peered in and felt her stomach churn with revulsion.

There was a solitary window letting in the sickly, pale yellow sunlight through its dusty pane. The shadows from a tree outside played across the dirty floor and broke up the lazy dance of dust motes in the stale air of the room. Along the far wall was a single, iron bed frame. Long ago, it had been painted a clean, clinical, crisp white; now the bars rusted and chipped, the white long since turned to dusty gray covering the dingy metal. The mattress sitting on it was sagging in the middle, striped and so dirty she couldn’t tell what colors it was originally intended to be. There were rumpled sheets that clearly never fit the thing at all, with a blanket and pillow tossed into the corner of the bed. Under it was the barest shadow of an old suitcase, its leather straps long ago sacrificed to the rot of this humid climate and the neglect of years passed.

In front of the bed, on the floor, was a pair of dusty shoes from a bygone era. They sat cockeyed, as if just slipped off by a young girl or boy whose feet turned inward from some shyness or infirmity. The toes of the shoes nearly touched and the dust made the old leather look soft, between the cracks. She had the impression that if she were to walk over and touch the shoes, they would crumble before her eyes. They certainly added to the smell in the air, of dust and old. She found herself wondering for the first time about the most recent inhabitants of this facility, the rats and spiders and other such creatures. Were they still here? Would they come out to meet her when the light dimmed enough for them to feel safe? She shuddered at the thought.

As if bidden by her thoughts, an emaciated rat scurried across the floor in the room. Where it had come from, she couldn’t say, but it seemed quite familiar with the surroundings as it dodged trash and equipment around the room to reach its destination— a small hole in the corner of the wall nearest her, next to the open closet. She willed herself to not scream, or jump, and watched the rat’s experienced maneuverings with a strange, morbid curiosity. When it dove into its hole, she found herself perversely drawn to crawl over to it and peer in, perhaps to see a family of rats sitting down to supper. She fancied the rat she saw was just going home after a long day at the mill (wherever that equivalent was in this place), and would soon put its feet up on a bit of fluff it had taken months back, ready to relax for the evening.

It was at this point that she realized her mind was going to places she would rather it didn’t, needing to keep her wits about her in this place. They had warned her that it would play tricks on her, that her mind would try to trap her here somehow. She silently cursed her imagination and went back to searching the room with her eyes. She refused to enter that space unless absolutely necessary, and unless what she sought was in the room, she wouldn’t enter it at all. She craned her neck around to see into the dark closet, where the door to the little cubbyhole was blocking the sunlight and turning it into a gaping maw of darkness.

“Damn.” She whispered when she realized she wasn’t going to get a good view unless she entered the room.

Keeping her eyes down and watching the floor for debris, she picked her way across this floor the same way she had in the hall. Something caught her eye for an instant and her toe tapped the corner of a tin can, sending it rattling a few feet away. She held her breath, hoping the noise wasn’t enough to elicit a response from the facility, and waited. 10…20…30. When there was no reaction, she let out her breath and turned her full attention back to the floor between her and the open closet door. She took a step closer, and felt the floor rumble slightly. Her heart fell as she realized the sound had indeed woken it up, deep in the bowels of the building, and it was coming.

The sound was faint at first, like rolling thunder. Except instead of coming from outside the dingy window, it was coming from further inside the building. As it drew near, the sound grew and changed. It sounded like rusty pipes breaking, or children screaming. Then it sounded like the whole place was groaning, straining to contain the thing.

She leapt to the other side of the room, far away from the door, and reached inside her coat for something. She wasn’t worried about making noise anymore; it already knew where she was. She cursed aloud as she fumbled with a trinket that caught the sunlight and gleamed softly for just an instant. She could hear it coming up the hall now, bashing carelessly against the walls as it filled the space.

It reached the doorway to the room she was in and hesitated for only a moment, the last fading sunlight repelling it. As the sun sank, her heart sank with it, knowing her best defense was gone. It turned then, facing her fully, and she almost shrieked in mind-numbing terror.

It was surrounded by a black miasma, like smoke. Its head was impossibly high, easily 8-10 feet, and there was too little of it for what should have been this thing’s head. That’s when it hit her; the face was that of a child. That’s why the head was too small, it was that of a small child atop this monstrosity! There were arms in the miasma that reached out for her, each of them capped by a hand with a face, a face that screamed in horror and pain.

The top head leered at her and the whole thing lunged through the door. In the last possible instant, her hand went up instinctively to ward it off, to protect her face, she had no idea. It just went up, still with the trinket clutched in it. But though the sun had left, the trinket still gleamed and glowed! The creature shrieked and hissed, backing away but filling too much of the door; it was stuck. It crawled backward, up the wall and away from her. She looked in her hand at the trinket, saw the glow, and thrust it out at the creature.

It hissed and spat, its venomous saliva bubbling on the floor before the door. Slowly, it managed to back away out the door, with the paladin following, still holding out the amulet of Amon-Ra to push it back. At the doorway, she stepped in the bubbling venom without a notice, her entire focus on the creature and pushing it back out of the room. The bubbling venom fizzled and was still, crystal clear as water on the floor.

The creature pulled farther back down the hall, through another doorway, and then disappeared. She could hear it moving, feel the floor still shaking with its many handed steps. Eventually they faded to nothing and she breathed a sigh of relief, replacing the amulet in her interior pocket. She had hoped to not have to show her hand so soon, but if that was the guardian here, things might be worse than they had thought at the priory. She would need to consult with the monks back at the monastery before venturing any further in, much as she detested the delay.

She made her way back up the hall to the front doors, pulling the pitted and rusty handle gently to open the large portal. As she gained the dusk outside, she heard a whimpering whine from deep in the facility, and knew that for the moment, the creature would hide and lick its wounds, rather than chase.

Credit: J. Svogar

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