Estimated reading time — 13 minutes
My name is Ingrid Ramirez, and today on this frozen, storming January day, I was standing before the coffin that contained my son, Alfie Ramirez. The coffin had a wooden, polished finish with flowers placed on top of the lid, like it would help hide the truth on why my son’s coffin had to be closed. It didn’t help; I knew exactly why his coffin was closed. It was an image that I would never be able to forget for the rest of my days. My son was murdered; torn apart by someone, or something, from head to toe. It took the coroner 2 hours to find every piece that he could of my Alfie…
Held tight between my breasts was Alfie’s video camera; it’s all I will ever have of my son. The Police gave me the camera hours after they informed me of Alfie’s murder, since they could find no evidence on it. They still could not answer why Alfie had brought the camera with him if he did not record anything…
Time went around me in a blur; all I could see was them lower my son’s coffin into the cold, uncaring earth and cover it with wet, sloshy mud. Alfie did not deserve that. I could not tell you how I ended up back in my home, sitting at my empty dining room table. I must’ve sat there for hours without a single movement. That is, until an overwhelming urge came over me: I wanted to see the videos my son had recorded. My eyes were too puffy and irritated to cry anymore, so I wouldn’t have to worry about crying through the videos. My chest would shudder like I was going to cry as I opened my laptop and plugged his camera into a USB port, but nothing came out. A file explorer popped up called “Alfie’s Videos” and I saw rows of videos he had captured ever since I gave him the camera on his 18th birthday.
I spent hours going through every video. As a storm raged outside, I sat there lost in the memories of Alfie. From the time he first moved out of this house and into a collage dorm, to meeting his first roommate, Mario. I smiled as he showed me his life through school, majoring in film. He met several new friends while he was there, all of whom I had once known. Some videos had were of him and his friends doing silly college things, like the notorious Spring Break beach parties, to pulling hilarious pranks on each other. I never felt so happy to watch these videos; for a moment it helped me forget the pain…
That is, until I saw it.
Next to his last recording, a strange video appeared. It was completely black and had the caption “The Monster Painter” under it. I felt a sense of dread; my heart raced as I slowly clicked on the video. Did the police see this? It wasn’t there before, was it? The video engulfed my entire screen and the scene began to play out. The video began with Alfie filming himself and his friends walking down an empty street. They were loud and obviously drunk, laughing and tossing their beer bottles into the forest; in the distance was the newly finished lake house down by the river. Why were they heading there?
As if answering me, I heard Alfie’s voice. “To all of my followers out there, this is Alfie Ramirez, and here with me on this cold, spooky night are my friends. My roommate and partner-in-crime, Mario,” he turned the camera to an attractive, Hispanic teen. He was arm-in-arm with two ginger headed boys. “With him are Chaz and Floyd, the infamous ginger brothers.” The two stuck their tongues out in a vulgar manor, shouting about how “crunked” they were (whatever that meant). He moved the camera to his right at one other boy, who looked like he was mildly irritated at being filmed. “And this is Garth, our brother from Africa.”
Everyone laughed as Garth took a swing at Alfie. “Shut up, Alfie. It’s not polite to be racist.”
Alfie chuckled as he turned the camera back to Mario, who was walking in front of the two gingers now. “Alright, Mario, tell our fellow viewers what we are doing here tonight.”
“We are here to see if this lake house is really as haunted as they say it is,” Mario turned and began walking backwards, his shoes crunching on the gravel road as the Lake House in the background grew ominously closer. “They say that sometime back in the 90’s; a beautiful French immigrant named Deanna Levasseur was burned alive here in town of Ipswich. She moved here with her family, but shortly after she did her parents died of a horrible car accident. She lived alone, secluding herself to her home by the river. The town found her to be weird, but they were happy because she was famous for painting portraits of strange creatures she saw in her dreams. Her fame brought the town tourists and it began to prosper. Until one day, on a same cold winter day like this, her house was vandalized by the local gang. They stole her valuables, ruined her life’s work, and set her home on fire. The police and fire department tried to save her, but she perished in the fire along with her precious paintings. They gave her the title “The Monster Painter” shortly after she died and buried her ashes at the edge of the river. And just last year, city hall allowed contractors to build this beautiful house over her grave site.”
Alfie zoomed in on the house. It was a massive, beautiful two story manor that was half way over the water. It had a lot of glass walls for better viewing of the lake. No lights were on and the house looked completely empty. Alfie zoomed out and began filming Mario again, right as they were approaching the front door of the house. “But freaky things have been happening ever since the workers built this place.” Mario continued his story. “People have gone missing and most were found dead… with their bodies hardly recognizable. They finished production of the house and have been unable to sell the place, due to a lot of local superstition and reports of the freak “accidents” associated with the house.”
Right as Garth started to pick the lock the two gingers moved Mario out of the way and grinned into the camera. “And that’s what we’re here to prove! That there is no such thing as monsters!” Chaz shouted a bit too loudly into the camera and Floyd agreed with him. Garth got the door unlocked and opened the door slowly. As he did, all the boys grew slightly quiet as a small breeze escaped from inside the house, blowing into their faces. They grew a bit nervous so Alfie went in first, declaring that the last one out of the house got five hundred dollars as winning bet. That seemed to motivate the other boys and they trudged into the house. Alfie filmed the interior of the empty dining room to his right then the hallway, which was also bare- but he abruptly turned the camera back to the front door as a loud “SLAM” echoed through the house. The front door had slammed shut. The boys began shouting a bit, trying to open the door, but it was locked.
Alfie turned to look behind him as a strange sound skittered from behind. He shouted at his friends to look as his camera caught the inside of the house… that was no longer vacant. All down the hallway were paintings of grotesque, hideous creatures that looked way too realistic for any normal person to endure. Even seeing them through the camera sent a chill down my spine. I watched my son and his friends reluctantly move down the hallway, into a fully furnished living room. If the house was empty… where did all of the furniture, and those paintings, come from?
Needless to say, I forced myself to keep watching as Alfie filmed the layout of the living room. I could hear his friends scurrying about, using the light from the fireplace as they looked through everything they could to try and find something that would open the front door. Alfie, however, was more focused on one particular painting.
It hung above the mantel of the fireplace- much larger than the previous ones, encased in a detailed shiny gold frame. The monster in the painting was crouched on top of a huge boulder; its body human-like, it had several tails that fanned out in all directions. The monster was pure black, but had outlines of crimson red, which glowed in the light of the fire… its mouth and eyes glowed exceptionally bright. Its feet were obviously animal like, the claws digging into the boulder. Its long, pointed ears were folded back menacingly as the creature was looking up at something unseen. Its mouth looked like it was a part of its face, since skin was being pulled apart to form the smile. Wide, hollow red eyes stared upwards as one hand was reaching up with large, extended talons protruding off the end of those long, boney fingers. Alfie moved the camera down after looking at the painting, seeing that there was a nameplate on the bottom frame. He zoomed in on it: It read “Acid”.
A blood curtailing scream suddenly made Alfie turn back around. The boys were stunned to find that one of the gingers, Chaz, was nowhere to be found. Frantically, they made an attempt to find Chaz, but the sound of a door slamming shut somewhere in the house made them stop. They got so quiet, the only thing you could hear was the popping of the fire. They heard the scream again; this time, they all ran for the front door. Floyd hysterically threw himself at the wooden door, trying to break it down while Alfie placed the camera down and joined the other two in grabbing the dining room chairs. They went over to the glass wall that viewed out to the surrounding forest and began beating it with their chairs.
What freaked me out was as I watched my son and his friends try desperately to break the glass, I could see a pale, feminine face in the reflection of the glass. She had long black hair; the left side of her hair had a small braid in it. Her skin was pale, but not quite white. Her eyes… they were black- soulless- with piercing blue irises that glowed with a blaze so sharp, the blood in my body stopped.
Alfie was shouting at Garth about something; it snapped me back into what was going on in the video. Every time they slammed the chairs on the glass, it would crack, but after doing so, the cracks would reverse and disappear. It did that with every single hit- the boys stopped when they heard Floyd shouting. Alfie dropped his chair and ran back for the camera, turning it back in the direction of the front door. What I saw made me cover my mouth.
Floyd was being pulled on his belly screaming as a massive, humanoid monster was dragging him towards a dark spot next to the door. The monster was massive, over 7 feet, with enormous arms, spiked tendrils coming off its back and spikes running down the middle of its featureless face. One of those horrible spiked tendrils was wrapped around Floyd’s ankles, shredding his pants and skin. The frightened boy began clawing at the floor, desperately trying to stop himself from his doomed fate. His nails began to tear, his fingers leaving behind a bloody trail as he was engulfed into the darkness. His screams echoed through the house as Alfie and the remaining two took off down the hallway and passed the living room.
Floyd’s cries didn’t stop until the boys ran into a random room. They slammed the door shut, barricading it with everything they could physically move (which was a dresser and a vanity). Mario was freaking out, sobbing uncontrollably and gripping his hair. Garth was crouched on the floor, rocking back and forth slowly, wishing he had just stayed home. Alfie was sitting on the bed, the camera lowered down into his lap, facing the far wall. His panting was loud and he was obviously shaking. A long moment passed, the three boys got really quiet, not daring to speak. Creaks and moans could be heard outside the door, coming from somewhere in the house. Mario had his head against the wall, covering his ears with his hands. Alfie moved the camera a bit, adjusting the lens when Garth suddenly gasped. “Oh my god, guys! It’s Chaz!”
Alfie turned the camera in the direction Garth was pointing. There was another painting of an extremely big creature with seven eyes, hunched over, with big spikes running from its head down the length of its back, and a mouth that split down the middle of its face. It stood there, mocking Shakespeare’s pose of holding a skull. Except… it wasn’t a skull. In the monster’s massive hand, was Chaz’s severed head. I saw that the painting said “Drogon”- but it wasn’t long before the monster came to life. It looked at the boys, chuckling sinisterly as it began to reach out of the painting. The boys cried out, wasting no time in throwing the vanity and dresser out of the way and squeezing out of the room.
“Head for the basement,” Mario shouted as they ran back through the living room and into the kitchen. A door was wide open; I could only fear that it was the basement. Alfie and Garth followed him through the door, slamming it shut behind them. It was blacker than pitch; all I could hear was the sound of their shoes stomping against the staircase- then silence. Alfie fiddled with the camera, probably trying to find the night vision.
“Oh my god, we are all going to die…” Mario sounded like he was about to cry, whispering the same thing over and over again.
Garth shuffled in the darkness as he made a scoff. “Will you shut up, Mario?! You’re not helping.” He made another annoyed groan as a panting sound began to get louder. “Damn you, Mario, I can’t think with you breathing down my neck!”
It got quiet. The night vision turned on, revealing Mario standing next to Alfie. Alfie grabbed Mario’s arm and tugged on him, whispering that it was just him. Mario looked spooked, but then his face began to twist into horror; he was standing next to Alfie.
“Uh, Garth… I’m over here…” Mario looked in Alfie’s direction as Alfie turned the camera towards Garth. Garth’s face looked confused- terrified when he realized that it was not Mario who was standing behind him. From the darkness came two, long boney hands that grabbed Garth’s head. Before he could scream, a sickening crack was heard. Garth’s head was no longer facing the screen.
Alfie recoiled in revulsion, taking Mario with him just as a creature stepped forward, hissing at them. I gasped; it was the same monster from the painting above the fireplace! The boys stumbled as fast as they could up the stairs, wasting no time in helping each other out of the basement. Alfie slammed the door shut before barreling into the living room. Alfie turned the camera back to the fireplace; the monster was, of course, missing.
He followed Mario up the stairs, neither one of them stopping until they were at the end of the hallway, right in front of a big window. The only place left to go was right, down another hallway where a red door waited ominously. Mario was trying to catch his breath when they both looked over sharply, seeing the shadow of creature stalking up the stairs, hissing. “There is no way I am dying here.” Mario muttered. He took a few steps back, facing the window.
“Mario, what are you doing?!” Alfie reached for Mario. “Don’t do it man!” Mario shrugged off Alfie’s warning and ran for the window. Alfie shouted for him to stop, but it was too late. Mario rammed into the window using his right shoulder, managing to shatter the window open. His body got about half way out the window, when the glass began to reverse back into place. Alfie made a small noise as he saw Mario’s body perfectly suspended through the window. Slowly, Mario’s body began to slide down the glass; the right half falling to the ground below, while the left slid to the floor. I could hear Alfie sobbing a bit; he wasted no time in running away from Mario’s sliced body just as the creature turned the corner to run after him. He ran all the way to the red door, opening it quickly.
I caught a two second glance at the room he entered, which was nothing but a pure white room, before he turned around and slammed the door shut. The creature smacked into the door, beating on it and making frustrated roars. Alfie was breathing really hard in the audio, sobbing every so often. I reached out and touched the screen gently with my fingertips; I couldn’t imagine what he was going through…
A noise behind him made Alfie turn around. In the middle of the empty room was a large chair. There was a woman occupying it, with her back to him. Alfie, to my surprise, walked right up to her, going around to the front of the chair. She had a long, tattered rag for a shirt, tights, and black metal boots. In her hands was a long, jagged paint brush, the handle looked to be made of bone. Alfie was still panting, shaking a bit now as he recorded her. She was looking off at the floor, as if she didn’t notice he was there.
“Who are you?!” my son spoke, a hint of anger in his voice. “What do you want?! You murdered my friends!” she did not answer him. “Answer me!” he sounded a bit more demanding, shaking the camera slightly.
The woman stared up at Alfie, her eyes stone cold. “What is your greatest fear?” she asked, her voice distorted.
Alfie took a step back, obviously affected by those eyes. “Screw you, lady! Just leave me alone and let me leave!”
The woman then turned her head away again, this time to look at a massive shadow that had appeared from nowhere on the floor. She dipped the paintbrush carefully into it, pulling it up in a large black blob. She flicked it off her paintbrush and the ball of shadow began to rapidly take shape. It transformed into the monster Alfie had just escaped from. The monster grinned mockingly at him, growling in amusement. Alfie took a step back, his breath hitched; he turned to turn away- only to be face-to-face with the woman.
Was the last thing she said before the camera began flickering, followed with the scratchy audio of flesh ripping and screaming. I placed my hands over my ears as I fought the urge to vomit. His screams went on and on until the screen went completely blank. I was sobbing now. Now I knew just how Alfie died, and who, killed him.
My screen grew brighter and I forced myself to look at it. On screen, lying in a pool of his own blood was the lifeless head of Alfie. His eyes were wide and vacant, a permanent scream on his face. I began to breathe fast, my heart racing as I heard the sound of heels clicking on the floor. They grew louder until they suddenly stopped. The camera was lifted and turned, to reveal the face of that woman: The Monster Painter.
She stared directly into the lens… right at me. I began to hit the escape button, but it would not work. My audio began to make a loud, ear piercing screech as she kept staring at me. I tried everything to close my video viewer, I even unplugged the camera, but nothing seemed to work. Finally, I slammed my laptop shut- which ended the stare of those eyes and that horrible sound. I pushed my laptop away from me and sat there for a long time. Everything had gone… strangely quiet. The storm was bellowing outside, yet I could not hear any thunder. The hands of the clocks were moving, but I heard no ticking.
I forced myself out of my chair, dragging myself to my bedroom. In a blur, I had gotten ready for bed. My mind was racing with all the things I had seen… could something like that really exist? Would anyone believe me if I tried showing that video to the police? How could they have missed that? So many questions ran through my mind as I crawled into bed. Sleep was much more powerful than I anticipated, for in a blink of an eye, I was out. I didn’t wake again until I felt something strange… like something was very wrong. My room had grown increasing dark; I could not see anything passed my nose. My heart began to flutter in my chest; lightning abruptly flashed, illuminating my entire room.
And there she was.
Standing on my wall, a foot above my head, was the monster painter. She was staring straight through my eyes, as if she was looking straight into my soul. I could feel it bubbling in my chest, that feeling everyone gets when they are overwhelmingly terrified. I began to heave as I breathed, my fingers gripping my sheets.
Her melancholy face was unmoved as I peeked to the foot of my bed. A small noise escaped me as I saw that monster; that multi-tailed beast who had slain my son. Some kind of force made my eyes move back to look at the woman. I could feel that urge again overpowering me, making my chest burn and my eyes tear up.
“Don’t scream.” She whispered as lightning flashed, distorting her face into that of a monster.
Credit To – Ignis