Estimated reading time — 14 minutes
This is an entry in the ongoing Mark of Canus pasta series.
Two concepts exist in our world, the natural, and the supernatural. Humanity actively sees and understands the natural, as we progress in science and mathematics, but most of us refuse to observe the existence of the supernatural, as we usually cannot perceive it. Many outright deny the possibility of supernatural occurrences, artifacts, or entities entirely, on the grounds that these things cannot be logically explained. The supernatural cannot be explained logically because it is not based in logic, as logic itself is a natural principle.
The human mind, or at least the part our basic consciousness resides in, is another natural thing, an article of logic. This is why we are not able to accept the supernatural as real, because it goes against the very basis of our understanding. Many argue the supernatural is in a part of our minds, the usually dormant part from where psychosis comes from, the crazy part, and that our minds have the capability for the supernatural, but that portion is almost always locked for some reason. Either way, the supernatural most certainly exists, and there is a lot of power in it even today. One such case of supernatural power in the world is the Mark of Canus, a manifestation of evil in the universe, and a driving force for violent insanity and even deeper darkness in the confines of the mind.
Throughout time, the Mark of Canus has touched certain individuals to the point of total, unfiltered madness. Francis Bandersnatch, an English archeologist of the early 20th century, recounts his encounter with the Mark as it drove his compatriot off the edge of the human psyche, and sent him spiraling in to the dark depths of lunacy:
The year was 1912, and I, Francis Bandersnatch, had only just earned the position of head archeologist of a dig team at Oxford. A fetching 27 years of age, I was in the prime of my life, and ready for any kind of adventure, or so I had thought. When my first assignment came in, I was eager to test my wits and determined to make my country proud through discovery. However I was not prepared, contrary to my attitude, for the horrors to come.
Apparently, some American chap by the name of Edward Kripp had been exploring in the Yucatan, a jungle peninsula in Mexico, when he stumbled upon some odd ruins from a seemingly ancient civilization. He then proceeded to enter the main structure, as any self-respecting explorer would have done, and scope out the place. He found things quite interesting, obviously, interesting enough to contract a dig team from Oxford, with yours truly as head, to excavate to ruins and uncover the secrets within.
I must admit, it sounded marvelous, a great first assignment for my team, and I accepted without hesitation. In two weeks’ time, my team arrived in a small village outlying the jungle and met up with this American fellow. At first sight, he seemed like an eager man, full of energy and passion. We only exchanged a brief greeting, but I liked him immediately. The locals at the village, however, did not.
Strange lot, these Mexicans, they completely avoided Kripp, and refused to speak with him. The night before we set out for the ruins, as my team and Kripp all retired to get some sleep, one of them came to me. He looked grave, almost frightened, said he had come to warn me.
“You and team go to ruins. Stay away! I warn you, evil crouched in old temple. Aztecs from here, they build great temples all over. This one different, no Aztecs, someone else. They deny Aztec Gods, worship true evil. They gone, but evil remain.”
I listened intently to the man’s story. It was foreboding, I must admit, and I was a little spooked, but nevertheless I had an assignment. I was hungry for adventure. I realize now I should have heeded his warning, and left right then, that night. But I didn’t listen. The man looked agitated; he continued.
“That man, American explorer, he went inside temple. Now he branded with Mark. Evil has him. Stay away from him, do not keep him with you. We have seen It with him, the Mark has him, the evil is in him. Please, leave this place now, leave American! Run away!”
Determined to stick to my assignment, I told the man to leave my room. Yes, his words were marked with grave honesty, but I didn’t care. I mostly considered him a nut, as these Mexicans usually are. I decided to sleep off his weird story, to be refreshed for the next day’s journey.
In the morning my team packed up and left for the ruins, right on schedule. We would have to trek through the jungle for a day and a half to get to the ruins, and then commence the digging the following day. As we moved through the dense tropical foliage, I had a chance to speak with this Kripp. In the back of my mind, the Mexican’s words still sat. I had been mulling them over all morning. Now was my chance to actually see what the Mexican may have meant, why he was so spooked.
“So, Kripp. Tell me more about these ruins you’ve found.” I started the conversation off, and studied the man’s face as he began. Yet again, he seemed passionate about his find, as was evident in his words. His face held an almost enlightened expression as he spoke of the discoveries we would make.
“Well, Mr. Bandersnatch, I was just mapping out some of the terrain when I came on it. It was magnificent, the stone temple looming over me, just hiding the sun’s light; it seemed to almost glow. The normally aggressive flora of the area seemed to surrender to the temple, as it was completely clear for about fifty yards all around the structure, not a vine or tree penetrated the stone either, as was normally the case in these parts. I have to say it was glorious. The dark entrance just screamed discovery! So of course I went in…”
“Then what?” I pushed for some information, at this point I was equally excited for the dig. Suddenly his demeanor changed, only slightly though. An infinitesimal sense of confusion, almost irritation, was present on his face here. There was an almost unnoticeable twitch in his right eye as he continued.
“That, my British friend, is the best part. But explaining it wouldn’t do it any justice, so I’ll just let you see when we get there. Anyway, I’d better move a little ahead, the jungle gets pretty tricky at this part of the journey. You men can follow behind a few steps.”
As Kripp walked ahead, one of my own men came to my side to replace him. A taller, burlier gentleman named Harold Ross studied Kripp as he walked away. The man was one of my diggers, and a veteran of the trade, who had been to numerous excavations in Africa. He was a trusted member of my team whom I held highly. The look on his face was a distrusting one.
“Boss, I want to talk to you about something, if I may.”
“Why yes of course, Mr. Ross, what is it on your mind?”
“It’s just that I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation with the American. I’m not so sure of his story.”
“What do you getting at, old bean?”
“I’ve seen a lot of weird things in this business, things no one should see, but this man is odd. I don’t like him. Ever since I saw him, something about him seemed off, like he was hiding something. And when he wouldn’t tell you just now about the inside of the temple, which I’m sure any explorer would have relished in doing so, it just didn’t seem right. Also, the villagers back there never said a word to him the whole time. They all avoided him. I’m telling you, boss, I don’t think he checks out.”
I didn’t want to unsettle any of my team, I would have hated to dislodge their focus on the assignment, so I neglected to mention the Mexican’s warning. No doubt, Kripp did seem kind of odd, but I had no reason to be suspicious. However, I though it a prudent fear, as many criminals have been known to stalk these kinds of ruins. They would hire dig teams like mine, only to have them dig up treasure then in turn shoot the diggers dead and haul it off for their own gains. It was a legitimate concern for archeologists like myself. To ease his mind, and the fraction of mine which was paranoid, I told him we should keep an eye on Kripp, and he agreed.
We traveled the rest of the day through the jungle, and when night came we set up camp to rest. After dinner, we all retired to our tents and got ready to sleep. I was updating my logbook when I heard some voice talking at the camp. I thought everyone was asleep, so I left my tent to investigate. The voice was coming from Kripp’s tent.
I leaned in to get a better listen. It appeared as if he was talking to himself, but I couldn’t make out any words or sentences in his speech, just obscure ranting. It was mortifying, listening to his hurried nonsense, gapped by outbursts of chuckling and awful gargling sounds. The sound was positively unsettling, it touched the bottom of my gut and made my neck hairs stand. Just as I was about to open his tent to see if the fellow was alright, he fell silent, and I heard the sound of his head dropping on the pillow. Aghast at this incident, I crept back to my tent, and attempted to get some sleep.
In the morning we set out again. I was considerably less energetic than before, as I was unable to sleep well after listening to Kripp the night before. He looked worse as well, his eyes now lined with dark bags. He looked pale, worn out, quite the opposite of yesterday’s Kripp. The more I observed of this man, the more he puzzled me.
The jungle became denser and denser as we moved closer to the temple. The aura of it changed as well. Unlike the day before, no animals were around. Gradually, the sounds of the jungle started to fade out, until the area became completely silent. The only sounds were of everyone’s steps and breathing, everyone’s except Kripp’s. His breathing was inaudible, and is couldn’t discern his footsteps. It was perplexing.
We trekked on through until my watch read noon, and shortly after, Kripp stopped. He looked back at us, and with a grin revealing all of his teeth, he pulled back an elephant’s ear leaf, revealing the temple. It was not as he described. The stone temple had an ominous look to it, the grey stone appeared to be untouched by the elements. The structure was plain, yet almost insinuating vanity. The feeling I had from looking upon it was confusing. I had never seen architecture like this.
Then, my eyes settled on the large image above the entrance. It was a symbol of some kind I had never seen before, utterly unknown and mysterious. It had a parading look about it, but just seeing it gave me deep chills. I didn’t know what this place was, but I was starting to believe the Mexican’s words about some evil, as the building practically poured out an alien energy, felt in the deepest reaches of my mind.
I couldn’t take my mind off the marking on the stone face, until a member of my team fell to his knees. I watched him start crying and heaving, stupefied at what was happening to him. He heaved more violently now, and then he let out a mouthful of blood onto the ground. Terrified at his own blood before him, the man started shaking and looked up to me.
“Probably the jungle,” noted Kripp, “There are a lot of sicknesses that can be contracted from the various insects and plants out here. Let’s get him inside.”
I looked at Kripp’s face. I had a very dark quality to it now. This man was totally different, there was an insidious look about him. I turned to Ross, who was studying Kripp as well, that look of distrust intensified.
We drug the coughing man into the dark temple entrance. Kripp lit some torches, and when coupled with a few of our lanterns revealed a large chamber. I looked around at the walls, all bearing the same mark from outside. Corridors on all sides remained pitch black for now, to be explored later. I must admit, the find was incredible. To have a structure as old as this, completely intact, was an oddity. It was the discovery of the century.
The sick man was given some water and made to rest in the main chamber, and the rest of the team split up to start mapping the temple. Ross and I stayed together with Kripp, because I was the head, and because we wanted to have our eyes on him. We found passageways that led us underground, and the deeper we got, the more the temple appeared to have succumb to nature. We came to a point where the way was blocked by earth. And so, the digging begun.
The whole time I was in the temple, I kept hearing frightening sounds from the blackened corridors. The overwhelming sense of lurking darkness got to me after a while. It was like nothing I had felt before. The fear in my heart rose with every step, and a feeling of some terrifying discovery waiting for me kept reentering my mind. I never knew my digs would be like this. I began to feel sick, and agitated. My mind started wandering, until I had completely lost focus.
Suddenly, I felt I had gotten lost and separated from the two others. I felt completely alone, that is, except for the creeping entity which lurched forward in the darkness towards me at every turn. My mind kept going back to that mark. I saw it over and over again, covered in ancient blood. I had a vision, a nightmare from the very depths of my mind. A sacrifice, blood all over the walls of the temple; that Mark everywhere. People dead. Then the sounds came, a horrifying song in some foreign tongue, dancing to the beat of some drums, a great crescendo until the finale I felt was coming. That Mark the whole time. I felt a slight slithering inside my bones.
I wanted it to end, I reached for my eyes; gripped the eyeballs themselves, realizing the ultimatum of my situation. I was then yanked from my state by Ross, who said I’d gone blank for a moment. I shrugged off the shivers as those feeling completely resided. By then Kripp was looking at me. I could see him in the corner of my eye, grinning a dark grin.
A member of my team ran up to meet us, said that they had discovered something I should see. We followed him back to the main chamber, and down an opposite hall which led underground even deeper than the tunnels we were just in. At the bottom, the hall opened up to another dark room, with a great circular door at the opposite end. The Mark was carved with special attention to detail on this door, and I feared for what was inside.
I looked back to see if Kripp had discovered this as well, but he was gone. Ross looked surprised that he has lost Kripp, having kept a close watch on the man. We studied the current room for a bit, then went back up to the main chamber, where a base had been set up, and found Kripp there talking to a member of my team.
“He says a group of diggers hasn’t come back yet, as they were supposed to.” Kripp looked grim as he spoke, “I warned everyone to be careful around here. Someone could get lost easily in this place.”
A team was sent to look for the diggers, with Kripp leading them, and by nightfall there had still been no word. The rest of us decided to turn in for the night, and as we all sat around eating I studied their faces. My men looked worried, frightened, and irritated. They all had a desperate nature to their tone of voice, and a resigned quality in their movements. They talked about odd feelings they’d been having since the dig started, swapping stories of creepy moments that concerned them. Not a one felt comfortable in the temple. They said they could feel it enveloping them, and if they didn’t get far away soon, they would go missing as well.
Their concern was genuine, I had felt the same thing since entering the temple. I noticed a great many of them scratched their eyes a lot. When I asked a few about it, they said that their eyes hurt from the darkness, and the markings on the wall seemed to exacerbate the problem. Greatly puzzled and afraid, I agreed that we needed to scrap the dig, and leave as soon as we found the rest of the team. For now, we would try to get some sleep.
I awoke in the middle of the night to the sound of terrible screams. When I fully I came to, I realized I was tied up, and being drug along the ground through a familiar passageway. My thoughts scattered, and the screams continued from down the hall. I looked up at who was dragging me, and found it to be one of my team, he was moaning. When I called to him, the man stopped walking and turned towards me. He continued his moans while he revealed his face.
Blood ran down his cheeks like red tears, his eyes were shut. When I shakily asked what happened, he opened up his eyelids to reveal his sockets were empty. Blood poured from them down his face. I was terrified, it was a nightmare. I screamed for help, but he just turned around and kept onwards. When he reached his destination he pulled me to my feet, allowing me to distinguish the room from before with the circular doorway, which had now been cleared away.
I was led forward and into the bottom chamber, which gave me the single most gruesome, horrific sight I had ever and will ever encounter. The walls and floor were red with fresh blood, and mangled corpses littered the whole room. My entire team, even the missing men from before, all dead and mutilated. Their bodies had been positioned in ways that resembled a twisted reenactment of an excavation. Their faces had all been ripped away, and their chests opened up, their hearts removed. I fell to my knees immediately and vomited. This could not have been a nightmare, it was way too real.
That damned Mark was everywhere, covered in blood as in my vision. I gaped at the overwhelming terror as I realized just what that Mark really was. I was, as the Mexican had put it, ‘true evil’. Nothing in the world came close to its intensity of utter horror. I was paralyzed by the scene before me.
There was a stone table in the middle of the room, on which rested a miserable Ross, he looked over and saw me. His eyes bulged out of his head and he called out to me for help, but I was still tied up and paralyzed with fear. He was bound by his wrists and ankles, and was naked from the waste up.
A figure appeared before him. It was Kripp, covered in blood. He started laughing maniacally and turned his attention towards me.
“Cut him loose.”
The eyeless man who dragged me now cut the ropes, but for some reason I still could not move. I watched in horror as the eyeless man, now having no use left, was ordered to kill himself. He proceeded to take the knife he just used to cut my ropes and slit his own throat, gargling as his blood spilled out on the ground. He fell over dead.
“Welcome, Mr. Bandersnatch, to my Crazy Place.” Kripp cried out with a degree of lunacy, “When I found this temple, I discovered an ancient evil more powerful than any God or Devil. The markings on the wall are that of the Mark of Canus, they have revealed themselves to individuals over time. This was a place of practice for those taken by the Mark, as I am. I’ve been ordered to let myself go free, submit to my dark desires, and kill for the Mark. I must obey its blessed commands. I was told to gather a team to open this chamber, and kill them all. As you can see I’m almost finished. Now, I’m creating art. Care to watch?”
My feet moved instinctively closer to the table where Ross lay. Kripp laughed uncontrollably as he took a knife and slowly gouged out an image of the Mark onto Ross’ stomach. I watched in disgust at his practice, and Ross screamed as the blood ran down his sides. Kripp looked in ecstasy as he proceeded to make large craters in the squirming Ross’ cheeks.
“Now, you shall see the Mark with clearer eyes! The very Mark which haunts my own mind and drives me to this! Welcome it inside you, it loves you. Its loving insanity will be your life blood and your poison. The Mark is, and always was, and it lives in us now!”
The madness became much deeper as he continued his dark art. He revealed a mass of eye balls wrapped in a cloth. Carefully placing them into the sockets he’d made in the dying Ross’ face, he reveled in his craftsmanship. Having ran out of eye balls, with only two sockets left empty, he turned to me.
“Come now, Mr. Bandersnatch, let us have those eyes of yours, and your sight will be joined with theirs!”
I could feel my hand reach for my eyes, as I had done earlier, and a grinning Kripp extended his hand in anticipation. I fought hard, but the Mark had insinuated itself into my mind, and I had little control. I fought it, and with my other hand reached for my pocket knife.
Kripp loved the idea, “Ooh, nice choice, just be careful not to damage them.”
He didn’t realize my intention. I pulled out the knife, and stabbed my other hand. The blood ran down my fingers. The pain kicked in, freeing me from the Mark’s hold. I turned and ran, much to the surprise of a deeply insane Kripp. I ran hard, all the way out of the temple. The whole way I heard his incensed laughter and growls of intent, as I knew he was chasing after me. Running for my life, the darkness closing in on me, I ran into the main chamber and right out of the temple into the night.
I just kept running out into the jungle until I was stopped by a hand on my arm. Screaming, I lurched back, not realizing at first that it was the Mexican from the village, alongside several armed villagers. I looked back at the entrance to the temple, and saw two figures in the dark corridor, both had glowing eyes. One had multiple sets on his face.
“You see, true evil in its form.” The Mexican said, trained on the entrance, “Time to go. They will not follow us now.”
I stared as the two figures backed up into the darkness of the temple. Never to be seen again. I could still hear the maddening laughter and screams.
Mr. Bandersnatch’s story is only one of many involving the Mark, and all its innate evil. Bandersnatch would return to England, where he would spend the rest of his days haunted by the memory of his trip. In June, 1956, Bandersnatch would be found dead in his apartment. He had a knife in his hand, and he had gouged out both of his eyes. He must have figured it was the only way to rid himself of the visions he had of the Mark of Canus.
Credit To – Greg P.