Prologue (The Librarian)
I’ll confess that it’s been very difficult for me to write this account, as I finally reveal my family’s dark secret to the world. A few years ago, I would never have considered going public about the twisted collection that I inherited, painstakingly maintained, and added to for all of my life. And to do so on an internet forum! I despise the worldwide web and electronic ‘books’…those soulless digital documents that are slowly strangling the life out of this business.
I’ve devoted my existence to vintage titles, living for the smell of leather bindings and sorties to obscure bookshops and fairs in all corners of the world. This calling has dominated my life so completely that I’ve isolated myself from the outside world. I have no friends outside of my professional contacts, I never married or had children, and all my family members are now deceased.
I am the last in my line and so have nobody to leave my rare collection to after I die. No museum or library on the planet would wish to take on my back catalogue and I’m unwilling to put my family’s collection up for sale. Oh, I know there are those who would pay anything to acquire certain books in my catalogue, but these nefarious characters will never get their claws on my volumes!
Honestly, I have come to detest my lifelong role as custodian of this devilish collection and so I intend to burn several of my once cherished books before I take my last breath. Frankly, many of these texts should never have fallen into mortal hands and so it’s best they’re returned to the fire from whence they came. But I digress.
It is not my intention to tell my life story, which in any case would be of little interest to anybody on here. However, I feel it’s necessary to reveal something of my family’s dark history to provide context for the tales to come.
Our most unusual collection was started by my great grandfather sometime in the late 1800s. I know little about my ancestor other than that he was the unsavoury youngest son of an English Duke. Known for his wild and hedonistic ways, my ancestor was said to have had a fling with a young serving girl who subsequently got pregnant. His father made discreet arrangements, forcing the girl to visit a back-street abortionist. She didn’t survive the procedure however, and my great grandfather was sent away in disgrace, receiving a comfortable allowance from his father on the condition that he never darkened the family’s doors again.
In the years that followed, my ancestor’s life took an even darker turn as he indulged himself in a self-destructive binge of alcoholism, womanising, and ultimately an opium addiction that would be the death of him. It was at some point during his downward spiral that my great-grandfather developed yet another unhealthy and dangerous obsession – this one being in the occult.
I don’t know which book he acquired first or where he found it, but the story is that my ancestor was seeking to make a Faustian-type deal with the Devil, trading his soul in exchange for earthly pleasures. I doubt he succeeded in his ill-advised venture, but that’s how it started.
His hellish collection grew in the years before his death as he acquired rare and often banned works on occult rituals and paranormal occurrences originating from all corners of the globe. In between his book hunts and opium binges, my great-grandfather got yet another girl pregnant and became father to a son. I understand he played little to no role in my grandfather’s upbringing, but he did write a will. But all the wretched man had left to bequeath upon his untimely death was his damned book collection.
And so, the tradition continued, although frankly it’s more like a curse our family has had to live with for well over a century. You might ask how this hideous custom has been passed down through four generations. Well, that’s a difficult question to answer.
I was only twelve years old when my father took me aside and told me the secret his father had passed on to him. I almost laughed when I listened to my dad talking of books penned by demons, histories of human sacrifices, and field journals of cryptozoologists. Initially I didn’t believe a word of it. But then my old man took me to the basement vault where the ever-growing collection was held.
I remember walking down the aisles and carefully lifting the ancient, leather-bound books under my father’s strict supervision and delicately flicking through the pages, reading the words and absorbing the dark energy within them. That was how it began for me.
I don’t know how to explain it…but those books and their pages…they take a hold of you somehow, latching onto a darkness deep inside. Those words have a terrible power, and if you’re not careful, they will eat you whole.
The collection now consists of several hundred works of various descriptions. They are written in numerous different languages and emanate from countless cultures and civilisations. Some are centuries old, having been painstakingly written by ink and quill, while others are modern, mass-produced paperbacks. The catalogue has grown substantially over the course of four generations and I myself have added dozens of titles during the past few decades.
Like the books I inherited from my ancestors, these works vary in age and content…but they all have something in common. Every book in my macabre catalogue tells a story from a world beyond conventional human understanding. And each offers a glimpse into the dark abyss that exists on the edges of our all-too-fragile civilisation.
So – for what it’s worth – that’s my family’s sordid history, providing a brief explanation of how this hellish catalogue came to be in my possession. So, if you’ve stuck with my this far, I guess you’re hoping to learn the contents of what my family has come to call ‘Hell’s Library’. Well, I must tell you, there are some works within my collection that I shall never transcribe, as their contents are simply too evil or too dangerous.
As much as it pains me, those publications will end up on the bonfire. Nevertheless, I do intend to share extracts from several of my favourite works so I can preserve at least some of my family’s dubious legacy. To begin, let me introduce you to The Secret Atlas by ‘Diabolus’.
Now, before I begin with my excerpts, I will provide some context about this book. The Atlas is a relatively recent publication, originating at some point during the early years of the 21st century. It is written in English and first emerged in North America, although there is no named publisher and the author’s name is clearly an alias.
There are likely less than a dozen copies still in existence and I was fortunate enough to discover one in the back shelves of a New Orleans second-hand bookstore during the summer of 2010. The copy I own is hardback and nearly 500 pages in length. The atlas does contain maps, but this is not its main appeal.
What interests me is the secret locations it reveals to the reader; forgotten places with dark histories that have been erased from the history books. The anonymous author of this secret history has painstakingly researched and sourced these extraordinary and often terrifying stories and brought them to life through first-hand accounts.
So now I will share with you four stories I’ve selected from Diabolus’s masterpiece of secret geography – a tragic tale of a noblewoman’s daughter – the last known inhabitant of a legendary phantom island, an account from foreign legionnaire stationed in a remote desert fortress assaulted by a hellish beast, a totalitarian prison camp where a dark ritual awakened an ancient evil, and finally a town exposed to a terrible energy which allows it to shift in space and time.
Chapter 1 – The Isle of Demons, also know as Sataniago or Satanazes.
Location – the North Atlantic, somewhere off the coast of Newfoundland (although in reality, this island does not appear on any modern map and so is not believed to be literally located on our plane of existence). Category – phantom island, legendary or lost land, demonic or supernatural realm. Primary Source – The lost diary of Emilie de la Rocque.
The story of the legendary Isle of Demons is hardly a secret, as accounts of this so-called phantom island appear in several historical texts. The isle began appearing on maps during the 16th century and was the subject of considerable speculation and fear amongst the early sailors travelling to the shores of North America.
It was said that the island was inhabited by demons and wild beasts – dangerous creatures that would torment or attack any ships that passed the isle’s coastline and devour anyone foolish enough to set foot on its shoreline. Early accounts describe the barren island as being covered by thousands of screeching birds and populated by ‘sea creatures as big as oxen, with teeth in their mouth like an elephant’ and bears ‘as big as a cow and white like a swan’.
It is highly likely that these vivid descriptions come from sightings of local wildlife – namely flocks of gannets, walruses and polar bears. Other stories are harder to explain away however. Accounts from French and Portuguese mariners spoke of low moans, guttural growls and unnatural voices calling out whenever they approached the cursed shores of the dreaded island, and so the rumours persisted of a land ruled by demons that should be avoided by all mortal, God-fearing men.
But the Isle of Demons gained notoriety due to a now famous tale of love, tragedy and betrayal. Maguerite de la Rocque was a French noblewoman who set sail onboard a small fleet of ships destined for Canada during the early 1540s. Whilst onboard, Maguerite entered into a passionate but illicit affair with a young officer. Unfortunately, their liaisons were discovered by the fleet’s commander, who happened to be Maguerite’s cruel and fundamentalist uncle, Sieur de Roberval.
Angered at his niece’s forbidden love, Roberval marooned the couple on the dreaded Isle of Demons, leaving them with meagre supplies and a few weapons – muskets and gunpowder – but otherwise abandoning the ill-fated lovers to their fate.
What followed was a battle for survival against the odds as Maguerite and her officer lover faced not just the brutal elements but also the dangerous wild beasts and of course the feared demons of legend. The polar bears were vulnerable to gunfire and steel, but the demons could not be slayed by any man-made weapons.
When the dark entities emerged, the couple retreated to the small stone cottage they’d built in the island’s centre where they maintained a constant fire to keep their supernatural attackers at bay. This much is well known, but what few realise is that Maguerite and her lover’s tryst resulted in a child, a baby girl who was born on the cursed island and raised by her exiled parents.
The girl was named Emilie and sadly she had a very difficult life. True, she had two parents who loved her, but they were marooned on the cursed isle without hope of rescue and so could not give their beloved daughter the life she deserved. Her existence was one of constant fear and an unending fight for survival.
Some years ago, I acquired a manuscript reported to be Emilie de la Rocque’s personal diary. Regrettably I cannot reveal the identity of the individual who gave me this manuscript, as the person who found the long-lost diary swore me to secrecy. I understand it was found inside a bottle washed up on the east coast of Newfoundland, close to the claimed location of the island.
I can say no more as to its origins, other than to confirm that I had the parchment carbon-dated by a specialist who confirmed the manuscript is approximately 4-500 years old. That said, all accounts suggest that earthly laws of time and space do not apply on the island. The only fact we know is that poor Emilie is trapped in this hellish place, and sadly her diary only confirms the constant torment the girl faces.
(The Diary of Emilie de la Rocque)
The First Day
I awoke at dawn, feeling the icy cold as I crawled out from under my fur blanket and placed my bare feet on the dirt floor. I sighed in despair before making myself presentable and getting dressed. I walked to the front room and greeted my mother and father, who both sat by the fading fire, muskets still in hand as they finished their nightly watch.
My parents look exhausted, their faces pale and eyes sunken. Both smiled when they saw me but I can tell they’re only trying to reassure me. Sadly, I know the terrible truth – every day mama and papa grow weaker, and I fear they will be unable to continue the fight for much longer. But as always, I buried my fear as I went about my day.
My parents rested while I left our home and sanctuary in search of firewood and food. I descended the barren rocks surrounding our stone cottage, observing the scars of last night’s battle. It was bitterly cold but I did my duties in relative safety. The huge white bears who inhabit parts of our island no longer approach our home, even in daylight. As vicious as the beasts are, they still fear to tread on the demon’s turf.
I shot down a gannet for our breakfast and gathered enough driftwood to keep our fire burning for another night. By rights I should have returned to our cabin, but I had a further task to complete – one that I must keep a secret.
Proceeding to the rocky beach on the island’s eastern side, I recovered the green glass bottle from its hiding place, my hand shaking as I carefully inserted the rolled-up parchment inside – the letter I so carefully wrote the night before, putting my heart and soul into every word and sentence. I thought of my pen pal as I inserted the cork to secure my heartfelt letter inside the watertight bottle.
His reply to my first letter has brought fresh hope to my dreary existence on this savage land, allowing me a glimpse of a world I hope to visit some day. After all these years of loneliness I have finally made contact, finding a friend on the far side of the ocean. But I must keep our correspondence a secret. My parents would never approve…and then there’s the matter of the demons who rule this land. It is dangerous to defy them, but I must take the risk. I cannot live like this any longer.
I took a deep breath before lifting my arm and throwing the bottle with all my might, watching as it hit the water, bobbing on the surface before the current slowly swept it out to sea. Tears rolled down my cheeks, but they are tears of joy, because I feel elated at my small act of defiance, as my bottled message represents a lifeline – a chance for me to finally escape this hellish isle and seek companionship and happiness in a land far from here.
Despite all the fear and horror, I still have hope in my heart.
The Second Day
Last night was hell. The demons came with the storm, as they always do. I could hear their devilish wailing carried by the wind and was instantly on alert, joining my parents in the desperate defence of our cabin. The battle was fierce and exhausting but somehow we held the beasts off until dawn…but at considerable cost.
Father is ill, as the stresses of the fight have broken him. Papa is now confined to his bed and I fear he will not last the week. Mother tries to stay strong for me but I can tell she too is losing the will to fight. I experience a powerful mixture of emotions at seeing my parents’ rapid decline – feeling sorrow, anger and fear in equal measure.
The correspondence with my pen pal is my only lifeline – a beacon of light in a sea of darkness. I read his latest letter again, noting the surprise in his words. He claims it has been years since he received my first letter, but for me it’s only been a few short days. I suspect the normal rules of time don’t apply on this cursed isle.
This scares me, as my chances of escaping to the outside world seem to be fading. But I’m not inclined to give up…not yet. I’ll confess that my latest letter has taken on a darker tone. I do not wish to cause my pen pal distress or to come across as a helpless damsel who needs a white knight to save her. Nevertheless, I must take this chance, as I fear my time is limited.
So, shortly before dusk, I carefully sealed the parchment inside of the green glass bottle and tossed it out into the cold waters, watching anxiously as the tide washed it out to sea.
The Third Day
My heart is filled with sorrow and grief, and tears of pain roll down my cheeks as I write these words. I am alone now, as both of my beloved parents have succumbed to the terrible affliction which overcame them.
Papa died first, and Mama fell into a steep decline, succumbing soon after. I had to bury their bodies myself, digging shallow graves in the cold, hard ground. With this grim task completed, I’ve fallen into a dark depression, hiding under my fur blanket and crying in despair.
The Fourth Day
Somehow, I have found the strength to go on, although my hope is quickly fading. My thoughts turn to my pen pal and the deep feelings I have developed for him. I sense that he is close, searching for me in a heroic attempt to rescue me from this evil. But alas, it’s all to no avail. We live in different worlds, somehow connected by our bottled messages but otherwise unable to make physical contact.
The storm began shortly after dusk and it was the worst yet. The winds were so strong that I feared our small stone cottage would be blown off the hillside. I hunkered down, musket in hand as I awaited the inevitable attack, but the demons’ assault was not as I anticipated.
The wind and rain were pelting down on our roof when the front door suddenly shot open. I jumped up in shock and confronted the intruder but found myself paralysed with fear and unable to open fire.
The beast didn’t take the shape and form I would have expected. It looked like a man clad in a dark robe and hood, but this creature was not a mortal being. I realised as much when the monster slowly dropped its hood to reveal the horror where its face should be – a dark void that I feared would suck in my very soul.
Paralysed by its dark magic, I could neither flee nor fight the beast and so I merely stood and waited for its killing blow. But the demon elected to spare my life, no doubt wanting to prolong my torment and misery. I don’t know whether to feel grateful or not.
I was conflicted over whether I would write a further note to my pen pal. As much as I want to hear from him, I also fear the consequences of involving him further in my most unfortunate situation. In the end though I decided to send the bottled message and tell him everything. The brave young man has been searching for me for such a long time and so I believe he deserves to know the truth.
I am lonely, and need to have some kind of human contact, even if it’s only in the form of a letter from another realm. I await his response with bated breath…his written words are all I have left.
The Fifth Day
I am beaten, both in body and spirit. I’ve fought for so long but this evil is too strong for me to defeat alone. I feel immense guilt because I should never have brought my pen pal into this hell. If I had known the consequences for that poor boy I would not have sent the first letter…but this was always their plan. I realise this now and I remember everything.
The faceless demon returned during the night, sweeping into my home and former haven with all the confidence and arrogance one would expect from a victor. Whatever defiance I had left in my heart disappeared as the beast forced me to stare into the dark abyss, and I found myself powerless to resist – suddenly telling the demon all my secrets and even betraying my beloved pen pal. I surrendered the last part of myself as the darkness overwhelmed me.
I understand it all now. The demons have used me as their siren to capture this poor man’s soul, as our bottled messages have somehow opened a gateway between our two worlds. They’re coming for him now, crossing dimensions and oceans with an unstoppable fury as they seek him out.
I have sent one last letter, apologising with all my heart and providing an advance warning, although I’m sure its already too late. The worst thing is…this isn’t the first time this has occurred. I don’t know what dark magic these beasts have used to erase my memory, but its all coming back to me now.
This pen pal wasn’t my first. The demons have been using me for so long, exploiting my youthful hope and optimism to make me write these letters, reaching out to vulnerable souls and drawing them in so the vile masters of this isle can claim new victims.
I hate them with all my heart for what they’ve made me do and I write this account in the hope I will remember, thus escaping their hellish trap so I can finally end this vicious cycle.
These vile beings have stolen everything from me and now all I have in my heart is hatred. I will fight them to my dying breath.
For several years now, accounts have emerged on online forums from young men claiming to have received bottled messages from a young French noblewoman trapped on a legendary island in the North Atlantic. These messages have turned up in every corner of the globe but somehow are always written in the native language of the reader.
My research confirms that such tales date back long before the internet age or indeed before any form of modern communication, with accounts appearing in newspapers and journals going back to the 16th century. The discovery of Emilie’s diary has shed some light on the dark secrets behind this tragic tale, although many questions remain unanswered.
In these days of full global exploration and satellite imagery we know that the Isle of Demons doesn’t physically exist on our planet, but clearly it is possible for beings or objects to cross over to whatever alternate dimension or plane of existence where the isle exists.
Emilie seems to have little concept of time and so one can only assume that the normal rules don’t apply in the hellish dimension where she’s imprisoned. It appears she receives the letters within a matter of days, whereas decades have passed for her ‘pen pal’ on the other side of the exchange.
If Emilie truly is the daughter of Maguerite de la Rocque and her lover, then that would make her well over four hundred years old, which is of course impossible. Therefore, the only feasible conclusion is that poor Emilie’s soul is trapped in some kind of purgatory where she is forced by demonic entities to assist them in their foul plot to capture the souls of young men and drag them back to their hellish realm.
One can only feel sympathy for this poor young lady and hope that one day she manages to break the chain and escape her demonic tormentors once and for all.
Chapter 2 – Fort Enfer.
Location – the Sahara Desert, approximately 300 miles southwest of Algiers. Category – cryptozoology, legendary beasts. Primary Source – the journal of Legionnaire Patrick Devlin.
The story of Fort Enfer and its doomed garrison has largely been erased from the historical record. What few references I could find within French military records describe a standard block-fort built deep in the Sahara and garrisoned by a small company of foreign legion soldiers. On the surface, Enfer was no different from the dozens of other bases dotted across the French Sahara in an attempt by the colonial power to wrestle control from the native tribesmen and warlords.
Fort Enfer was first constructed between 1863-64 but all references to it end after the spring of 1876. A footnote in the official history of the legion mentions a major assault on the base at that time, with the entire garrison being killed in action. There are no further details on the nature of the battle. Most historians assume that the fortress was overwhelmed by local rebels, but the evidence I have uncovered suggests differently.
The journal that I will quote from is reported to be written by First Class Legionnaire Patrick Devlin, an Irish renegade and volunteer in the legion. I discovered the century-old journal in a flea market in Tangiers during the early 1990s. The Arab trader manning the stall offered me a cheap price and seemed eager to part with it.
I remember returning to my hotel and reading the journal’s contents with bated breath, not setting the old book down until I’d read it cover-to-cover. The story told by the late Patrick Devlin seemed unbelievable and naturally I was suspicious. I’ve come across a lot of hoax documents over the years, and sometimes they are heard to detect, even for an experienced eye such as mine.
Still, I did more research and my due diligence. Carbon dating confirmed that the journal dated back to the late 19th century and local accounts led me to the conclusion that there was more to this story, and Legionnaire Devlin’s account is likely to be the truth. And so, here is the unabridged journal for you to judge for yourself.
(The Journal of Legionnaire Patrick Devlin)
17 April 1876
They say we Irish are all as mad as cut snakes and given my current predicament I can’t really argue. Here’s me – a young lad from the back end of County Cork, used to rain and bogs and green grass. The English trained me in soldiering but then forced me out of my home country due to my links with the Fenian movement. And so, I ran to the continent and joined the foreign legion in Paris.
This is how I came to be here…Fort Enfer, aptly named for its hellish setting – a desert land of intense heat. I stand guard on the fortifications as the fiery sun burns my pale Irish skin, and all I can see is an ocean of hot sands in every direction. I still can’t believe my life has come to this, but I’m a soldier and must do my duty.
Our base is built in the standard block formation, crudely but firmly constructed from rocks dragged out here on the backs of camels years ago. This is the boundary of the French empire, sitting right on the edge of the civilised world. There are forty men in our small company, a mixture of nationalities from all over Europe – German, Italian, Spanish…Predictably, I’m the only Irishman.
Many languages are spoken inside Enfer’s walls, but we all know enough French to communicate and follow orders. Our commander is Captain Durand, a veteran officer from Toulouse. He is a small man with a Napoleon complex who makes our lives even more miserable, but such is the life of a soldier.
Our company is completed by half a dozen local scouts – hardened Bedouin trackers who keep to themselves, rarely speaking but always praying in the direction of Mecca. They view us with suspicion and there is always tension, but these natives know the desert better than we ever will, and so we depend on them for our mission.
Officially we’re here to project French colonial power in this part of the world – to put rebellious tribesmen in their place. As an Irishman who was run out of his own country by an imperial power, I have mixed feelings about our job here. But I’m a mercenary serving in a force notorious for harsh discipline. I’ve made my choice and must follow orders.
We’ve received reports of a small band of rebel tribesmen on camel-back roaming just south of our location. Durand has ordered a patrol to intercept this enemy force, and I was lucky enough to be picked for the operation. I suspect we’ll face a long, exhausting day trekking through the desert sands under the baking sun and find nothing. But order are orders, and there’s soldiering to be done.
18 April 1876
I thank the Lord that I made it safely back to the fortress, because now I know there is truth to the local legends, and there’s a far greater threat than restless tribesmen out in the desert.
We set out shortly after dawn, with Captain Durand commanding the patrol of eight soldiers and two of our native trackers, Abdul and Mohammed. We rode on camel-back as we set forth into the desert, the intense sun soon rising and slowly baking us as we rode in circles, searching for any signs of the alleged rebels.
The search seemed fruitless and Durand slowly grew more frustrated and angry as we dealt with the heat and the sand, but then our guides discovered tracks leading deeper into the desert. To our mutual shock, the camel tracks were soon replaced by trails of blood and entrails, and we discovered the scene of a horrific massacre.
The sands had been churned up, as if the ground had collapsed from underneath, and the land was covered with mutilated corpses and body parts – slaughtered man and camels, ripped part and eviscerated by some unknown attacker.
I looked upon the massacre with disgust, shock and fear. In all my years of soldiering I’d never seen a bloodbath so gruesome, and I didn’t know who or what could have carried out this horrifically violent act.
The Captain believed the natives were slaughtered by a rival tribe, but even at the time he didn’t sound sure. More worrying was the reaction of Abdul and Mohammed. They are hard men of the desert and I’d never seen them scared before, but when the men saw the massacre they both became visibly unsettled, whispering to one another in their native tongue, their eyes widening with terror as they spoke.
Our guides strongly recommended that we left the site of the massacre and returned to the fort without delay. I was inclined to agree, but Durand wanted to survey the scene to recover weapons and ammunition, and so it was sometime before we set off for home.
I recall the great relief I experienced when we saw Fort Enfer on the far horizon, but this relief soon turned to terror as the desert behind us opened up, the sand collapsing as something huge made its way to the surface. Me and the other troops stood in shocked awe at the scene, but our Bedouin guides broke and ran, riding their camels at great speed as they fled back to the fort.
Durand screamed after them, ordering the two Arabs to halt and stand, but his authority had broken down. We couldn’t see whatever monstrosity had emerged from the depths as the beast remained just below the surface. But clearly it was huge in size and moving quickly in our direction, the sands parting as it tore through the desert as easily as a shark swimming through water.
My comrades and I are hardened soldiers and veterans but we’ve learnt when to fight and when to run, and in that moment we all fled for our very lives. All except for Captain Durand that is, our stubborn commander who stood his ground and screamed back at us, threatening court martials for abandoning our posts.
But even Durand’s camel saw the writing on the wall, as it bucked him off his back and galloped back towards the base along with the rest of us. I glanced over my shoulder just long enough to see a screaming Durand disappearing under a wave of sand as the unseen attacker devoured him.
We whipped our camels to make them run faster, but they hardly needed the motivation as they recognised the mortal danger. Thankfully, the men on the wall saw our predicament, opening the gate for us to enter the fort. We made it just in the nick of time as our comrades slammed the gate shut behind us.
I feared the unseen subterranean beast would simply plough through, as I reckoned the fort’s gate and wall could not stop it. God must have been looking out for us however, because the monstrosity abruptly stopped its charge, disappearing back into the ground whilst leaving a long trench of sand in its wake.
We’d survived the first attack, but now our commander is dead and all the men are terrified, myself included. Discipline is breaking down, as angry and frightened mercenaries scream at each other in a multitude of languages, aggressively waving rifles and bayonets as they argue over what to do next. In the end we have no real choice however.
We must assume that the subterranean monster is still out there in the surrounding desert. The nearest garrison of significant size is close to a hundred miles to the north and there’s little chance we would make it there in one piece. It seems our only option is to stay put and defend the fort until the relief column arrives.
I hope to get some rest tonight as tomorrow I’ll return to duty on the wall, and I fear there’s more bloodshed to come.
19 April 1876
Our trackers left during the night, abandoning us to our fate. I’m sure they know what is coming and are content to leave us foreign devils to the beast’s wrath. Morale plummeted after the men discovered our native guides had deserted. The troops no longer argue and fight but instead the mood is solemn and depressed, as soldiers mutter silent prayers or write their last wills on rough parchment. We are all renegades and outcasts, foreign mercenaries trapped in this hellish place…and perhaps this monster has been sent to punish us for our collective sins.
The beast came again shortly before dusk, circling the desert around our walls as if searching for weakness and a way in. We are yet to see its full form, but the monster must be forty to fifty foot in length. We fired at it from the walls with our rifles but our bullets had no impact, and its clear our weapons are not powerful enough to penetrate its thick hide.
The beast has given up for the night, retreating back underneath the sands – but I have no doubt that it will return. We will work through the night, building up our defences and preparing for our final stand.
20 April 1876
The beast has launched its final assault, and our defences are in shatters, with men devoured and slaughtered without mercy. I have seen the monster’s true form and can only conclude that the hideous beast has ascended from hell for the soul purpose of preying upon mortal men.
The attack came out of nowhere, taking us all off guard. We expected the behemoth to attack the walls and so underestimated the beast’s cunning as it surprised us by burrowing deep, bypassing our walls and emerging inside of the base itself. Although taken by surprise, the troops soon rallied, and we turned our rifles around and opened fire.
But all hope was lost once we saw the monster’s hideous head emerging from the sands. It is difficult for me to describe the beast with my limited vocabulary as I have never seen anything like it before, nor was I aware that any such creature existed on God’s green earth.
The beast is in the shape of a worm or grub but has grown to an enormous size – its full length being easily fifty feet. Its mouth is similar to a beak, large enough to swallow a man whole and filled with row-after-row of razor-sharp teeth. Its eyes are jet black like those of a shark, although I wonder whether its eyesight is limited as it presumably lives beneath the ground.
When the enormous creature opens its mouth it stinks of death and rotting flesh, and it roars with the ferocity of a dozen lions before launching its savage attacks.
Whatever its origins, what is clear is that the beast has a ravenous appetite for human flesh, as within minutes it set upon my comrades, ripping both men and camels limb from limb and spilling their blood all over the hot sands.
The scene descended into bloody chaos as any semblance of organised resistance broke down. We fired at the beast but to no avail, and our bullets only seemed to anger it more. The troops up on the wall might have thought they were safe due to their elevated position, but the monster had yet another fiendish trick to play.
We watched on in horror as it spat a thick fluid from its beak, the stream extending for many yards and striking the men up on the barricades. They screamed as the foul liquid burned through their uniforms and melted their skin.
Men were falling dead all around me, dying horribly as the monster carried out its wanton slaughter. Somehow, I managed to escape the killing field with two other men – a Spaniard named Diego and a German called Hans. We are all that remains of the company. We fought our way back to the barracks where we’ve barricaded ourselves inside. We plan to make a break for it at dawn but don’t expect to get far.
I write this final entry in the hope that this journal somehow makes it back to my family in Ireland. I want them to know that I died fighting…And I’m sorry.
The three of us are from different nations but we share a common faith. We shall pray together before making our break for freedom…But alas, I fear God is absent from this place.
We are in the Devil’s realm here. This land is cursed and should be avoided by all mortal men. Heed my warning whoever finds this. Do not come here…
The journal ends here. I have found no record of Patrick Devlin mentioned again and so can only assume he perished during his attempted escape. But then there’s the question of Fort Enfer and what became of it. The foreign legion never reoccupied this base or deployed another garrison to the region.
Despite Legionnaire Devlin’s warning I did attempt to visit the site during the 1990s, only to find it fenced off and guarded by units of the Algerian Army, with access prohibited and signs displayed warning of arrest or lethal force against all trespassers. However, I was able to talk to locals who spoke of an ancient demon which has plagued the region for centuries and is rumoured to have developed a taste for human flesh.
Devlin’s description of the beast isn’t the most detailed but is largely consistent with the other accounts I’ve collated from local sources. The evidence points towards a previously unknown and officially undocumented alpha predator living in this far-flung quarter of the Sahara desert – a species possibly related to the Mongolian death worm found in the Gobi, although much larger in size and more aggressive in nature.
That said, one cannot fully discount Devlin’s theory that the beast is demonic in nature. What’s clear is that the French and Algerian governments have gone to considerable length to ensure the beast’s existence remains a secret, and probably they have good reasons for doing so. But, unless the beast or species becomes extinct, it seems likely that the truth will eventually come to light.
Chapter 3 – Gulag 217.
Location – Yukat ASSR, the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Category – satanic ritual, demonic entity, state secrets. Primary Source – Declassified NKVD intelligence report from 1937.
The collapse of the Soviet Union during the early 1990s offered a unique opportunity for researchers such as myself, as the breakdown of government structures allowed access to thousands of previously restricted and highly confidential documents from the Soviet era. I was determined to take this opportunity to discover the truth behind a rumoured paranormal event that occurred in Siberia during the 1930s.
I travelled to Moscow in 1991 and made discreet enquiries amongst my local contacts, eventually being put in touch with a disgruntled civil servant with access to the Kremlin archives. Even then I didn’t hold out much hope of obtaining what I was looking for given the sheer volume of classified documents dating from that period. Therefore, I was elated when my crusty Russian archivist came up with the file I wanted, and I was more than happy to pay the hefty price in roubles that he demanded.
The terrible crimes and mass murder of the Stalinist era are well known, and the huge network of gulag prison camps constructed across Soviet territory held hundreds of thousands of alleged political and religious dissidents. As Stalin’s paranoia grew, more and more supposed enemies were shipped off to these isolated camps where conditions were brutal and many thousands died due to the harsh weather and violence dished out by the sadistic guards.
The gulags were run by the NKVD, Stalin’s notorious secret police which grew so powerful that they had their own military force and an economic network based on slave labour in the camps. In addition to political dissidents, the gulags also held various non-political criminals as well as religious groups whose beliefs were opposed by the communist regime.
Orthodox Christians, Jews and Muslims were all targeted by Stalin’s henchmen but so were smaller and less well-known religious factions, including underground groups who engaged in dark rituals and blood sacrifices. One such cult was rounded up and sent to the now forgotten Gulag 217 in Eastern Siberia, south of the Arctic Circle.
217 was typical of many of the camps in this region. The prisoners were forced to work in mines under horrendous conditions, and the guards would dish out violent punishments for the slightest of provocations. But what marks out the unnamed camp from hundreds of others is the bizarre events that occurred during the autumn of 1937, shortly after the arrival of the aforementioned satanic cult from Central Asia, and this horrifying incident is recorded in the NKVD report from the time, which I have translated from the original Russian to transcribe here.
(NKVD Report on the Gulag 217 Incident, dated 5 November 1937)
Mass casualty event – estimated death toll 4,500 to 5,000. Perpetrator of unknown origin.
Status – Highly classified. For Politburo eyes only. Content not to be shared under any circumstances. The penalty for breaking the Party’s ruling is a mandatory death sentence.
Gulag 217 is – or rather was – a work camp holding approximately 5,000 enemies of the people, the majority of whom were serving their debt to the state by working in the nearby iron ore mines. The camp was garrisoned by a battalion of 500 NKVD guards and infantrymen equipped with standard small arms but lacking in heavy munitions.
The work camp experienced some minor discipline problems in past, but nothing to cause command serious concern. On the 3 September 1937 around one hundred religious dissidents arrived at Gulag 217 and were processed by the camp’s commander, Major Sergei Ivanov (footnote – Major Ivanov’s whereabouts are unknown following the incident – his current status is missing, presumed dead).
The new batch of prisoners all originated from the Central Asian Soviet Republics and belonged to a religious sect under the leadership of a Kazah man calling himself ‘Cain’.
Command holds little intelligence on this nameless sect, but it appears their philosophy runs contrary to the Abrahamic religions. Local party officials condemned Cain’s group as enemies of the people, citing barbaric pagan-like rituals and blood sacrifices.
Survivor accounts and reports received by command prior to the incident all point to a deterioration in discipline following the arrival of Cain’s group. Comrade Major Ivanov’s situation report of 14 September states that the sect continued to practice bizarre rituals after their arrival in camp despite the blanket ban on all religious ceremonies. Ivanov also reported several unexplained deaths which occurred shortly after the group’s arrival and noted this as a cause for concern.
The next report received by command was dated 21 September. The content of this second report from Ivanov took on a darker tone, noting how morale amongst his men had plummeted while the prisoners were becoming increasingly restless. The religious dissidents were continuing their prohibited activities despite the threat of severe punishment. What’s more, the sect was said to be growing, with more prisoners joining them and engaging in their increasingly violent rituals.
In an attempt to curtail the faction’s activities, Major Ivanov placed Cain in solitary confinement, but he reported that this action had only led to a further escalation, with violent clashes between prisoners and guards occurring daily. After this, Ivanov’s report became increasingly bizarre, as he spoke of the ground trembling and disembodied voices being heard in the dead of night. There had also been further unexplained deaths and disappearances within both the camp and the mine.
The reply from command to Ivanov was direct and unambiguous, stating that the major must restore discipline within the camp immediately or face being removed from his position and branded an enemy of the people. In any event, this was the last situation report received from Major Ivanov before the incident took place.
The next communication received from Gulag 217 was a frantic SOS radio transmission broadcast on 25 September reporting a full-scale prisoner uprising and requesting immediate reinforcements. A rapid response company of NKVD mechanised troops was dispatched within a matter of hours, but all contact was lost with the relief column soon after.
At this point the situation was escalated to Moscow and brought to the attention of the General Secretary. A full brigade of the Red Army was mobilised in Yakutsk and sent north to investigate. What they found was a massacre, with thousands of badly burnt and dismembered corpses strewn all across the site, while the gulag itself was reduced to a ruin, with structures burnt to the ground and a huge borehole in the centre of the camp, suggesting that a major seismic event had taken place.
A handful of shaken and terrified survivors were discovered hiding amongst the burnt-out ruins by the advancing troops and were returned to Moscow for interrogation at NKVD headquarters. Their collated accounts provide a vivid picture of what happened at Gulag 217. Although their stories are outlandish, superstitious and counter-revolutionary in nature, our investigators have not been able to determine a feasible alternative explanation for the sheer scale of the massacre that occurred at this location.
Whilst survivor accounts differ on some details, guards and prisoners both agree that the trouble began at dusk on 25 September, when Major Ivanov ordered all prisoners to assemble in the main yard where they were instructed to stand and salute as a collective punishment for the previous incidents. It was a freezing cold morning with snow coming down in a heavy blizzard, and so conditions would have been uncomfortable for the prisoners.
After several hours of this treatment the prisoners became increasingly agitated, with Cain’s followers and their recent converts apparently taking centre stage in drumming up dissent.
The tension built until all hell broke loose in the middle of the morning, as suddenly several thousand prisoners broke and charged maniacally at the cordon of guards, fighting them with improvised weapons and their bare hands. At this point Major Ivanov ordered his men to open fire with rifles and submachineguns, slaughtering hundreds of rebellious prisoners in a hail of bullets.
But the rebels had the advantage of numbers and their ferocious assault was relentless. Soon the guards were overwhelmed as men were beaten to death in the snow and the prisoners armed themselves with their discarded weapons. The surviving guards fled to their barracks, as did Major Ivanov, and rioters took control of the camp.
Their first action was to free Cain from solitary confinement, and the cultist was said to have received a hero’s welcome in the yard, as almost all the prisoners rallied behind him. It was during the afternoon that the SOS call was radioed in and local headquarters mobilised the rapid response company. Meanwhile, a stand-off ensued at Gulag 217, with Ivanov and his remaining men barricaded inside of their barracks while Cain’s rebels controlled the rest of the camp.
During the chaos of battle, Cain had taken around 50 NKVD guards as hostages. It was initially assumed that the cult leader planned to use the hostages as bargaining chips, but in actual fact he had more sinister plans in store for them.
The ritual began sometime after dusk on the 26 September, the snow still falling as Cain’s men made bonfires out of the guard towers using siphoned petrol, as they forced the guards down to their knees in a perfect circle in the centre of the yard. There is some confusion about the sequence of events that night. One thing all accounts agree on is that a mass chanting began at midnight, as thousands sung in unison in a language unknown in the Soviet Union.
The meaning behind the words chanted are also unknown but all who heard it spoke of a dark and foreboding mood which overcame them, as it seemed clear that something catastrophic was about to occur. As the chanting reached a crescendo, fifty of Cain’s original cult members stepped forward, using knives and bayonets to cut the throats of their hostages, spilling the warm blood of the fifty guards onto the snow-covered ground.
The tremors began shortly after, as the earth shook violently and the ground began to crack open. Witnesses say there was a sudden spike in temperature as the snow began to melt, and then the ground collapsed as men fell into a huge borehole close to one hundred foot wide. Although the situation was confused to the point of anarchy, all witnesses agree on what happened next.
The entity which emerged from the borehole, having apparently ascended from the depths of the earth, was said to have been the height of ten men with a vast chest adorned with thick steel armour. Witnesses describe the entity as having the torso and thick arms of a giant man but the head and hooves of a beast. Its head was topped with horns, its eyes burnt a bright red, and its mouth was filled with sharpened teeth.
The beast roared like an alpha predator and unveiled a weapon close to 20 feet in length, described as a sword of pure fire. Although Cain and his collaborators had orchestrated this event, it seems they were unable to control the beast they had summoned, as within minutes the monstrosity set upon the rebels, slaughtering dozens with a few swipes of its sword.
Our witnesses say the scene descended into pandemonium as terrified prisoners fled in all directions, but the slaughter continued unabated as the monster stomped through the snow, slicing men in two and stomping them underfoot. It seems that the guards and prisoners set aside their previous differences as they joined forces in an attempt to fight their attacker, but by all accounts, the small-arm bullets simply bounced off the beast’s thick armour without causing it any harm.
Much was lost in the chaos of battle, as the camp’s structures were burnt to the ground and hundreds of men died in the flames or under the beast’s sword. It is assumed that both Ivanov and Cain died during the onslaught, although neither of their bodies has been identified.
The NKVD relief column would have arrived at the camp during the early morning, but without heavy weapons they met the same fate as the others, their trucks being destroyed on the road and the troops slaughtered, their corpses left in the snow.
Our witnesses are unclear as to what happened to the beast once its massacre was complete, with some saying it descended back into the borehole, while others are certain it marched northwards into the blizzard. In any event, the entity was no longer present when our mechanised brigade arrived on site, although the beast had left behind huge tracks, a burning camp, and thousands of dead bodies.
It is of the upmost important to state security that all evidence of the Gulag 217 incident is tightly contained. As a result, the work camp has been permanently decommissioned and all survivors have been detained and shipped to separate gulags across the Soviet Union. The site has been cordoned off by the military and shall remain strictly off-limits for the foreseeable future, while the few surviving members of Cain’s counter-revolutionary sect have been tried by closed court and sentenced to death by firing squad.
The General Secretary has directed that it is paramount to state security that all evidence of the entity and its assault on Gulag 217 is erased and that no reference to the incident reaches our capitalist enemies in the west.
The NKVD report speaks for itself. It may seem difficult to comprehend how such a major paranormal incident resulting in huge loss of life could have been covered up so effectively, but one must remember the extreme levels of secrecy within Stalin’s Russia and the huge death toll that occurred during his horrendous purges.
What’s interesting about the secret report is that it makes no reference to satanism, hell or a demon – as it even using such words would constitute an existential threat to their Soviet atheist ideology.
I was able to visit the former site of the former Gulag 217 during the chaotic period in the early 1990s. The Siberian locals are still very wary of the site and so I was forced to travel the last number of miles alone. There was little physical evidence left at the site, although the burnt-out skeletons of the buildings remain, and so does the massive borehole descending deep into the earth.
I felt a cold chill as I looked down into the darkness and visualised the monster that had ascended from it decades before. Locals say you can hear the screams and cries of the damned from the depths of hell emanating from the hole, but thankfully I heard no such thing. They also say that the victims were buried in a mass grave nearby, although no-one I spoke with knows the exact location.
Although the deaths were hidden amongst the mass murders of Stalin’s Purges, I am glad to finally be able to reveal the truth of what happened to the victims of Gulag 217.
Chapter 4 – Resurrection Town.
Location – Yucca Flat, Nevada Testing Site (originally), various locations throughout the State of Nevada since 1961. Category – ghost town, alternate dimension, trans-dimensional entity. Primary Source – unpublished blog of Jason Burnside, student and amateur journalist.
Most students of history will be familiar with the early atomic age when nuclear weapons tests by the superpowers were common as the United States and Soviet Union competed to build even more powerful bombs. While the first ever atomic weapon was tested in the deserts of New Mexico in July 1945, the majority of American tests were carried out at the Nevada Test Site from 1951 onwards.
Many of the iconic photographs of mushroom clouds towering above bleak desert landscapes date from that time, and detonations could even be seen from nearby Las Vegas during the 1950s and 60s. This was during the period when above ground tests were still carried out and the consequences of deadly fallout were not fully understood.
Another interesting aspect of the testing site were the dummy towns constructed by the Department of Defence planners – a little slice of 1950’s suburbia built right on the edge of the blast zone. These purposefully constructed fake settlements were incredibly detailed – complete with cars, homes, furniture, household items and even fully dressed mannequins standing in for citizens.
The purpose of these constructs was obviously to give an idea of the effects of a nuclear blast on a civilian area, and the results were both devastating and terrifying in equal measure. Two of the test sites – ‘Doom Town’ and ‘Survival Town’ – are fairly well known. But in fact, there was a third site which has been all but erased from the historical record, and its name was ‘Resurrection Town’.
I spent years chasing the urban legend that is Resurrection Town, trawling through DOD records with no success, as all the files referencing this obscure location were either missing or heavily redacted. I’d almost given up all hope of finding the truth behind this fascinating legend when I received a most unexpected lead.
Believe it or not, I actually acquired the source material during a game of poker played in a Las Vegas casino during the summer of 2000. The man I won it from was an eccentric Texan wearing a cowboy hat and calfskin boots, looking like he’d stepped right off the ranch. The Texan was quite a character and took his loss pretty well, although he gave me no information on how the source material had come into his possession, only saying that it contained the key to unlocking the Resurrection Town mystery.
The material itself came in the form of a floppy disk containing a single word document. The text was written by a young man called Jason Burnside, and its contents are incredible. I was able to track down Mr Burnside and interview him to confirm the details of his account, but sadly there was a tragic end to his story.
I’ll come to that in due course, but before I get to the conclusion, here is Mr Burnside’s story in its unedited text.
(Unpublished Blog of Jason Burnside)
Andy Simpson was my best friend, and I miss him every day. We met in middle school and bonded, staying together as we progressed into high school and had to deal with the usual array of bullies and ill-fated crushes on girls who were out of our league. We were nerds I suppose, more interested in playing video games and D&D rather than throwing a football outdoors.
Andy had a particular interest in the whole world of urban legends, government conspiracies and alien abductions. My friend was a big X-Files fan, so anything out of the ordinary peaked his excitement.
We went to separate colleges but kept in touch, and it was spring break 1999 when Andy invited me to go on a trip to Nevada with him. Now, when you think of a vacation in Nevada, the first thing that comes to mind is surely Las Vegas…casinos, cocktails and strippers. Well, this isn’t what my friend Andy had in store for us.
Instead, we set off into the desert in search of the fabled Resurrection Town. I’d never heard of this urban legend before, but Andy had become a self-thought expert. In fact, he’d become obsessed with the place. Andy told me how Resurrection Town had been built by the government sometime in the late 50s and was originally located on the Yucca Flat in the Nevada Testing Site.
The official story is that the town was destroyed by a nuclear detonation, but the legend said different. For four decades there were reported sightings of Resurrection Town fully intact – the buildings, cars and fittings having not aged in all those years. But that wasn’t the strangest part. You see, Resurrection Town was originally located in the Testing Site, which is of course a restricted zone. But, in keeping with its name, the dummy town would pop up in locations all across the State of Nevada, materialising as if out of thin air along some lonely desert road, where a random traveller would unwittingly stumble across it.
The town would never stay in one place however, disappearing within a matter of hours. It could be months or even years before it appeared again, but never in the same location. The sightings of this legendary ghost town varied in detail, but there were various accounts of bizarre and unnerving occurrences, including those of a strange man dressed in black who wasn’t what he appeared to be.
Now, the problem with searching for this legendary town was obvious. No-one knew when or where it would appear, so finding it was surely impossible. However, Andy thought differently. He’d spent countless hours tracking down all accounts of the town over the decades, noting the reported times and locations. He claimed he’d found a pattern – developing an algorithm to predict the exact date, time and GPS coordinates of where it would next appear.
I’ll be honest, I thought it was all BS, but Andy had some crazy scheme in his head and he wanted to chase it. I planned to humour him by driving around the desert for a few hours and – when we found nothing – we’d head to Vegas and play the slots. If I’d known what would actually happen, I never would have gone along with it.
We set off from our cheap motel shortly after daybreak, driving out into the desert in Andy’s old Chevy. I was navigating, following the ‘X’ Andy had carefully marked on the map, which was of course in the middle of nowhere, forcing us onto back roads and then dirt tracks as we drove further and further out from civilisation.
Andy was very tense, keeping a close eye on the clock and constantly badgering me for directions. It was a boiling hot day and the car’s A/C was barely working, so naturally I was getting increasingly pissed off with what I considered a wild goose chase. I was about to lose my temper and call my friend out…But then, to my utter astonishment, we saw buildings on the horizon.
At first I thought it was a mirage, but then Andy cried out in excited triumph as he put his foot down on the accelerator. And I was in a state of stunned shock, because my friend had been right all along. Resurrection Town did exist, and we had found it.
I was in a daze as we drove up to the small settlement, trying to tune out my friend’s excited ramblings as he parked up in sand and we observed the scene. The town was small, consisting of five bungalows, two double-storey buildings and even an old-fashioned gas station. There were no signs of decay or decomposition and one might have believed the structures had been built yesterday.
Andy jumped out in excitement, tossing his keys on the dashboard as he grabbed a heavy bag from the back seat and ran towards the inexplicable town. I cautiously followed, still in a state of disbelief as I cast my eyes upon the scene. I noted the vintage 50’s cars parked along the asphalt street – Cadillacs, Chevrolets and Lincolns – all in pristine condition, shining like new under the hot Nevada sun.
I recall having an eerie and unsettling feeling deep in the pit of my stomach, thinking I shouldn’t go any further. I watched as Andy removed equipment from his bag – a camera, camcorder and some sort of sensor I didn’t recognise. He switched it on and it started making a foreboding clicking sound as Andy studied the dial display. He frowned when he saw the results, prompting me to ask the question.
“What is that thing?” I enquired nervously.
“A Geiger counter.” Andy replied without hesitation, “Ex-Soviet military. Radiation levels are higher than they should be in this area.”
I was understandably concerned by this statement, exclaiming – “Radiation! Holy shit man! Are we going to get sick?”
“No man, don’t worry. The readings are within safe levels. I expected this, that’s why I came prepared.”
My friend sounded confident, but I was still scared. Andy’s unhealthy obsession had brought us to this place, but I feared he wasn’t in control of the situation.
“Come on, let’s explore!” Andy exclaimed, as he ran off the sands and onto the hot tarmac. I wanted to run back to the car and lock myself in, but I had the feeling my friend would need back up, and so I reluctantly followed.
I experienced a strange energy as we marched along the road, cautiously looking through the transparent windows of the cars and houses whilst feeling like we were intruding in a foreign land. Even Andy seemed to become apprehensive, his previous confidence slowly ebbing away. Nevertheless, he was determined to proceed, pointing towards the open door of the first bungalow.
“Come on man, let’s look inside!”
Despite my fear I’ll confess to feeling curious, and so I cautiously followed my friend inside. What we saw was unnerving to say the least. The living room was immaculately furnished and decorated, with no signs of decay or damage despite it being decades old. On the couch sat a family of fully clothed mannequins – a suited father, a mother in a summer dress, and two young children – a boy and a girl.
All the mannequins were wide-eyed and had fake smiles painted onto their faces. The dummies looked sinister as they all faced towards a black-and-white television set. Inexplicably, the TV was switched on, displaying a constant static even though it had no visible power source. Occasionally there was a break in the static transmission and I swore I could see an image of a black-suited man for a brief second, hearing words spoken in a language I did not recognise.
I felt a cold chill run through me as I shot my friend a look and said – “What the hell was that?”
Andy shrugged his shoulders before replying – “I don’t know man. Probably just interference.”
He removed the camcorder from his bag and started to film, taking a long shot of the mannequins on the couch before moving on.
“Let’s have a look in here.” he said, continuing to film as he walked towards the kitchen.
There we found tidy worktops and 50’s appliances, but we didn’t have long to explore before suddenly being distracted. There was a heavy bang from behind, making us both jump.
Looking back, my heart almost jumped out of my chest when I saw it. The mannequins had all previously faced the TV set, but now their heads had turned and all four were facing Andy and I, looking upon us with dead eyes and twisted smiles.
“Jesus Christ!” I screamed, backing up against the wall in a panic.
“What is it?” Andy asked.
“The mannequins! They were looking the other way a second ago!”
“No way man.” said Andy, shaking his head in denial.
“Are you serious man? Take a look at the recording.”
Andy frowned, although he did look at the camcorder’s display screen and attempted to rewind.
“Shit!” he suddenly exclaimed, “The camera’s dead. It must be the battery.”
I knew he was lying, and I’d reached the end of my tether.
“Come on Andy, let’s get the hell out of here!”
He seemed reluctant but nodded his head nevertheless. I walked out cautiously, half expecting the eerie mannequins to come to life and chase after us, but thankfully they didn’t. We were soon back out on the street and I was eager to return to our car, but Andy hesitated.
“Come on man!” I cried out in frustration, “Let’s get out of here!”
Andy looked over at me and shook his head vigorously. “I can’t man. Not yet. I might never get this opportunity again.”
I couldn’t believe my friend’s attitude, as his dark obsession had overcome his common sense.
“You can’t be serious Andy! This town isn’t safe!”
“Just one more house man, and then we’ll go home. I promise.”
I sighed in exasperation but didn’t argue. God knows I should have fought him. I should’ve dragged him back to the car kicking and screaming – I’ll regret not doing so for the rest of my days. We cautiously walked along the pavement to the next bungalow, as Andy slowly pushed open the door.
I expected to see more of those freaky mannequins sitting in the front room, but instead we came face-to-face with something far more terrifying. The figure who sat on the leather couch was apparently waiting for us to arrive, because he stood up to greet Andy and I with what I assumed was meant to be a smile.
It’s difficult to describe the figure we encountered. He took the form of a middle-aged man, standing at roughly six foot and wearing an ill-fitting black suit, black shoes, white shirt and dark tie. But what I really found unsettling was his face. It just didn’t look right. His skin seemed like it was stretched too tightly against his skull and his bloodshot eyes bulged with a fiery intensity. His checks and lips were lacking in colour and his head was totally bald. The figure didn’t look human. Instead, he seemed like an otherworldly entity impersonating a human being.
I knew from first glance that he was dangerous but found myself frozen to the spot, unable to escape his predatory gaze. He opened what I assumed was his mouth and spoke in a low, unnatural voice, saying – “Greeting visitors. Welcome to my home.”
I was still pondering the meaning behind his words when Andy spoke.
“My God, its really you!” The Man in Black!”
“Yes.” the figure replied, “This is one of the names I’m known by. I understand you have come far to visit me.”
“Yes,” Andy responded excitedly, “I’ve been searching for so long.”
“I commend your persistence.” he answered, “And you are both welcome as long as you follow the rules. There must be no photographic or recorded evidence of your visit to Resurrection Town.”
My mind was racing as I tried to make sense of this craziness.
“I don’t understand. Who are you? And what is this place?”
The Man in Black emitted what might have been a laugh before he answered my question.
“You seem less well-informed than your companion. But never mind, I am content to explain. As you may have guessed, I am not from your world, and this settlement technically does not exist in your dimension. I fear the science is beyond your understanding, as is often the case for your species. You humans are keen to bend the rules of the universe in your relentless quest for power but splitting the atom and other such actions do have consequences. This anomaly in the fabric of space and time is one of them.”
My jaw dropped at this point. What I’d just been told was truly astonishing and beyond my wildest imagination. I wondered how much of this Andy already knew, but I never got the chance to ask him. I glanced over at my friend and saw the camera in his hand but didn’t have time to shout out a warning before he pointed and clicked, the bright flash filling the room.
The Man in Black’s reaction was swift, furious and brutal. He shot forward at rapid speed, his eyes filled with a murderous rage as he grabbed hold of my friend’s throat and snapped his neck like a twig. I watched on in shocked horror as Andy’s lifeless body fell to the floor. And then the attacker turned on me, grabbing my body and pinning me against the wall, his hideous face only millimetres from my own as he spoke with anger and hatred.
“Damn you wretched humans! I gave your friend a clear instruction and he paid the price for disobeying me! Was I not clear?”
My legs felt weak and I stood stunned, unable to speak and feeling certain my neck would be the next to snap. But to my relief, some of the anger faded from my assailant’s eyes.
“I should not blame you for your companion’s indiscretions. He has paid the ultimate price, but you were not to know. I will allow you to leave unharmed. But heed my warning human. Your species has broken barriers before, and no doubt will again. A new era awaits for your civilisation and your scientists will make new discoveries in the years to come. I will let you live so you can communicate this message to your people.”
He paused briefly, not releasing me from his tight grip and continuing to glare through me with his intense, inhuman eyes. “If your species continues to play fast and loose with the rules of the universe, you will face consequences far more serious than this small anomaly…You have been warned!”
With that he finally released me and motioned for me to leave. I cast one last look at my dead friend, feeling a twinge of guilt before I fled. I ran down the street, glancing back over my shoulder to see the Man in Black glaring at me and watching my retreat. And then I looked to the window of the first bungalow and saw the four mannequins, now standing and watching me with their terrible, dead eyes.
I totally lost it at that point, sprinting down the tarmac until I was back on the sand. Then, I leapt into Andy’s car and started the engine, speeding away into the desert and back towards civilisation. I only briefly glanced into the rear-view mirror in time to see Resurrection Town fading and then disappearing completely, returning to whatever alternate dimension it had come from, taking the dead body of my best friend with it.
So, this is my story…and whether you believe it or not, it is the truth. I have seen the puppet behind the curtain and can never go back to the life I knew before.
This is the end of Mr Burnside’s account, but not quite the end of the story. I was actually able to meet the unfortunate Mr Burnside after reading his diary. I tracked him down and visited him in his new residence, which I’m sorry to say was the Nevada Secure Pyschiatric Hospital, where the poor man had been detained following a mental breakdown.
Sadly, I was unable to get much additional information from the troubled man other than his constant rambling and references to the Man in Black, who he claimed was haunting his dreams. The tragic saga of Mr Burnside ended a few short weeks after our meeting when he hung himself in his room, seemingly unable to live with what he’d seen.
Meanwhile, tales of Resurrection Town’s sudden appearances and disappearances continue. Most have been undetailed and confused, although the late Mr Burnside’s account does shed some light on the mystery.
It’s interesting to note how some scientists involved in the Manhattan Project believed the first nuclear test could result in catastrophic consequences for all life on our planet. Clearly, this didn’t happen. But perhaps the tests during these early decades of the atomic era led to other events which we didn’t understand or even notice.
The accounts of Resurrection Town suggest this is the case. And perhaps the most chilling aspect of the ill-fated Mr Burnside’s account is the terrifying warning from the ‘Man in Black’ and what it might mean for the future of human civilisation. Alas, only time will tell.
Epilogue (The Librarian)
Well readers, it is I – here to sum up and offer my final thoughts on Diabolus’s masterpiece of hidden history. I have shared just four short chapters from the Secret Atlas, and perhaps I shall transcribe more in due course. And this is only one book from my collection – a literal library from Hell which it has been my destiny and misfortune to inherit and preserve.
And so good readers, perhaps you will choose to join me again if you wish to learn more of the worlds that exist beyond the edges of our ‘civilised’ society. But be warned…one never can tell where these dark tales will lead you. Until next time.
Credit: Hell Tourist
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