Estimated reading time — 18 minutes
Author’s Note: This is both a tribute and a shout out to anyone out there who has experienced similar events or has met someone that had them. I’ve tried to omit the names of all the people involved for reasons of privacy and security.
My family has always embraced its European roots. So much that one branch of the family never left Europe to begin with. My father and mother also lived for many years on Portugal before moving out to the States at the end of their teens years. I, like my brother and sister, was born in Colorado and fully American. Yet still, I learned Portuguese and kept in touch with our overseas family, especially my cousin. You’re reading this because of him. He was a hardcore fan of creepy pasta and I thought of no better place to honor his memory.
My cousin was an avid reader and, overall, a great person if I say so myself. But he was always a moody kid, prone to depressions and paranoia. His epilepsy didn’t help either. I remember one day of summer, I guess in ’06 or ’07 when we went to visit. He was in a cheery mood, playful and bright. Then the convulsions started. Later in that day, he finally returned home but he wasn’t the same. Sometimes I managed to hear my aunt say something of the like: “When he returns, he seems another person. I’m afraid of him.” to which my uncle and grandfather would simply shrug her off. And that leads me to the other person of interest in this whole thing: my grandfather. Of all the people I met, he was the closest in resemblance to my cousin. Moody, dark and paranoid, he spent his days living in his estate at Sintra, one of the most beautiful regions on the Portuguese mainland. Indeed, many politicians and rich people from all around the world had or still have great manors and palaces there. It’s a mountain terrain covered with a deep green forest, one of the oldest in Europe. I’ve always thought that place as magical, but I admit. Not once in my whole life I’ve felt comfortable in the estate of my grandfather. I visited him there about ten times and in ALL of those, I could not feel comfortable. The air was heavy and even the emerald green seemed to grey out into an oppressive mass of wilderness. The exact opposite was true to my cousin.
Well then, in the winter of ’07 my Grandfather died, alone in his bed. When the monthly maid came and found him, he was already dead for three weeks and the stench was so unbearable it could be sensed from outside. His body was in such a bad shape the funeral had to be made with a closed casket to prevent general horror and even so, they could not stop the foul smell of rotting flesh from permeating the surroundings. My aunt and uncle weren’t exactly sad with the loss though, but my cousin spent almost two months in depression. After that, the news came to our side of the ocean ever more scarcely about the subject and, from what I gathered (because my father and mother weren’t very keen on sharing some of the most sordid details), they had discovered at the estate proof of rampant debts and financial negligence that could impact all of our lives. I was expecting most of it and all these fine details would not even stick in memory were it not a single small conversation I happened to listen (read: eavesdropped) on my mother and aunt. They mentioned a spider collection of some sort. They said, from what I could understand, he had kept rooms filled to the brim with spiders and spider webs and many other “specimens” in glass jars all over the basement. I felt a shiver run through my body and, for some reason, I recalled the last time I had visited the old coot. His weird smile and estranged glare got to me much more than I thought at first and I just tried to push it out of my mind, for how unsettling it was.
Life went on as usual and, besides the new found difficulties, not much really changed. We still talked and they still visited us, if not as often as they did before. But I did take notice of a small and gradual change in my cousin. His periods of moodiness went longer, his depression struck more severely and, apparently, he had developed a sudden fascination with spiders. My parents only said in a reassuring way that it was a normal reaction and a consequence of the passing of grandfather and I guess I too wanted to believe that. After all, he said himself he had been recurring dreams about the estate and grandfather. Eventually, the reunions became scarce and stopped. Money was the reason, they told me then.
After that, life seemed to start running. I completed High school and got enrolled into a decent university here in my state. I was months away from ending my degree in law when I heard the news. My cousin had disappeared. Personally, we began to drift apart since ’09 and the last tangible information I had from him were no more recent than March ’10. I felt a cascade of feelings when I heard that, in these 2-4 year gap since my grandfather’s death, his behavior had worsened considerably. He had developed an extreme aversion to social contact and paranoia and, sometimes, would go on and on about, and I quote: “the masters of the known dark.”. His parents tried EVERYTHING and they failed. Doctors thought he had developed a type of schizophrenia but all medications seemed to be useless, except a heavy dosage of sedatives, and even then, those could be not totally effective. I came to know that, two weeks prior, one of these doses had failed in putting him to sleep and he effectively escaped the house and remained missing. I was in shock, but there was nothing I could do but wonder what could upset a moody, but rather normal, person into a chaotic spiral like that. Well, I did get my answer soon enough.
Earlier this year, in January, they found him. His unrecognizable corpse had, apparently, been bitten thousands of times by some sort of insect, like ants or other critter like it. Of course, I thought immediately in spiders but I dared not to say it. I grabbed my stuff and went for the funeral. As it was with my grandfather, the casket was closed and I sat there awkwardly watching my uncle and aunt sob uncontrollably for almost an hour. I could not say anything and I only spoke in the evening, while we were eating. My family would stay for a couple of days and then we would return to the states. For some reason, I was determined to find out more about the fate of my cousin. Everyone that knew anything remained quiet about it and, if I had mentioned it, the subject would be surely dismissed quickly. For that reason, I used the stealthy way of doing things. After dinner, while we were in the parlor, I excused myself and went to the bathroom. Of course, as you already imagined, the minute I put my feet outside that room, I dashed to my cousin’s bedroom. I remember the obscenities I thought when I turned the knob only to discover it was locked. I thought I had to somehow obtain the key from the master bedroom of the house and, as soon as I turned, I saw her. My aunt was just standing there, upright in the middle of the hallway, half hidden, half illuminated by the dim light of the old style lamp; staring wide-eyed to me with her deep blue eyes. I could not understand her expression, if she had one. I just froze there feeling my blood rushing out of my face. She then spoke, in a suffering tone I’ll never forget: “We keep the room locked now. You see, those nights… the straps would not hold him. Since the window is barred, he would bash the door until the drugs stripped him of strength. But the noise would not stop. Bang, and bang, and bang all over the house. Every night, every day…every minute…”
I managed to burp some scared words, asking if my aunt was okay. She turned away and looking the other way just said that I shouldn’t be there and that this house was full of bad memories. And then, before she disappearing into the kitchen, I heard faintly: “…just like that damned house…”. I understood it then. The place where he was found was the estate of grandfather. The pieces were falling in line.
I had a restless night that day. I kept dreaming about him, about his possible final moments. I was determined. That morning I would grab the estate key that was probably kept at my uncle’s office and I would drive there under the pretense of meeting some old time friend. And better yet, everything went according to plan. My aunt and uncle were still devastated, but at the same time they were keeping my own parents busy from asking many questions. The key was even easier to find and before 10 am, there I was on my way. It took me about an hour and half to reach the region. The curved and small roads seemed to lose all their charm and by the time I arrived at the rusty main gate, all I felt was an overwhelming apprehension. I untied the knot made out of weathered chains kept together by the padlock and I drove right in. The house had suffered a lot with the abandonment. The vines had run wild and managed to cover some windows of the first floor and were threatening to do the same to the ones on the second. I could not help but notice the unusual amount of web that was covering the porch and pretty much every other structure in that garden. I dismissed the fear that was slowly building up in me with a rational conviction that the presence of the webs were natural, since the house was empty. I cut through them and found the door opened, slightly ajar, also covered in web.
I gave the first steps into the corridor, half a decade later since my last visit, this time only accompanied by the slight groan of the wooden door. The dry and stagnant air was the same as I remembered and really, the only tangible difference was the lack of furniture. The white paint was scaling off, little by little, beginning to show the granite stone beneath the paint which made me wonder exactly how old was this house. As I moved along the house, many memories flooded my mind. “That mess in the kitchen in the beginning of ’03, in which me and my cousin almost flooded it. The screams of our mothers and the silent anger of my grandfather, looking at us in the middle of that red sea…wait, what?” or that one time, in which “we were helping grandmother carry her buckets of compost to the garden and we looked at the buckets, filled with spiders, silently scrawling through our bony arms.” I stopped dead in my tracks. Those memories were off and completely corrupted! “The hell I am thinking?” I wondered myself. My heart raced as I began to approach the final room. It was a library with an adjacent room which my grandfather used as his own master bedroom. It was also the place of his death. I cringed a little bit before touching the thick wooden door and finally pushed it. As every single room before it, the door swung open with a little but unnerving creak that echoed in the now empty room. The heavy bookshelves were still standing, lined up by the wall, covered in web. Otherwise, it was also empty. I quickly went in so I could reach the door on the far side that lead to my grandfather’s room, but I could not shake that feeling. The feeling of their small paws up and down on my jacket, going through my shirt and climbing up my skin. I looked around. They were everywhere. The windows were full of them, almost sealed in thick webbing that disgusted like nothing else in my life. I looked away and held my breath. I just wanted to check that last room and get the hell out of there. But, it wasn’t going to be that easy.
I turned the knob and it didn’t budge. Maybe it was the rust-eaten lock, finally giving up to old age and abandonment. Or maybe they closed it for some reason. I just couldn’t think straight. I just kept imagining a single thread of silvery silk coming down, touching and finally giving way to the monstrous spider at the end of it. I freaked out. I bashed the door down and, as if the door offered me no resistance whatsoever, fell straight into the dusty carpet. Much to my surprise, that room had furniture. Nothing really lavish, even the opposite. The exact same frugal style that suited grandfather. I got up and looked around. The bed seemed to have not be in touched in years, as if they kept everything as it was all those years ago. Both the bed frame and the mattress had a gaping hole in them, its edges covered in a sort of dry but still vile brownish marks, as if something had melted through them into the floor, whose texture seemed blackened. Well, at least I think so. The hole, as the majority of that room was covered in deep webbing, complete with small but disgusting spiders. On the small table, the other piece of furniture in that room, was a simple scribbled note in what seemed to me a ripped piece of paper. I removed the thin layer of dust and read the words. I could not help but notice that the handwriting was, without a doubt, my cousin’s. “Lords of the depths, they rise invisible and bind us into silence, until all we are is made divisible and blind.”
The door of the room shut with a bang that made me jump. I looked back and ran for it, but the door just wouldn’t budge again. Overtaken by the sudden panic, I screamed to whoever I thought was out there. I wanted to get out of that place more than anything. I banged on the door. “Stop! This isn’t funny!” I shouted. The only thing I heard was silence. I screamed again and again, until I started banging the door as a madman. I was ready to blow it out of its bolts when I heard a single, louder than anything, bang just outside the door. At first I was startled, but then the continuous screeching sound made me fall into my knees and cover my ears. It was like a thousand screams put together in an unholy summoning. “Make it stop! For fucks sake!” I screamed into the air. As if it heeded my request, it stopped and was replaced by a subtle clunk. I looked around numb of that experience and tried to open the door. It was still locked, but had a key in its keyhole. I wondered how I didn’t notice it before and I swiveled it to hear the same clunk I just heard. Very carefully, I looked outside. The room was as it had been before, the empty bookshelves and the open door on the other side. I thought to myself. “I’m just going to get out of this madhouse…”
As I got closer to the way out, I started to hear another small noise. I stopped dead in my tracks, trying to not even make a sound as I swallowed my own saliva in anxiety. It was very faint, almost like a soft but prickly rolling on the wooden floor. I tried to ignore it and as I reached the doorway, I turned back one last time to close that place up for good. It was then when I saw it. The last bookshelf was off, quite bit out of line, almost as if something from the other side had pushed it very slowly. A part me, a wise instinct screamed through my blood flow to turn around and just get the fuck out of there. But my rational side kept saying it was the light, the history of the house, the whole situation itself that probably was playing tricks on my mind. I always prided myself of being a rational person, so I took my chances. I approached the bookshelf and I saw a small opening made by the angle of the furniture. Just outside of it was probably the source of the rattling sound I had just heard: a single black point pen. It was old and worn out, it’s ancient gold tip tarnished and blackened by ink that had long dried out. Without thinking, I put it in my pocket and looked over into the corner. A kind of book was stuffed there, right in the angle where the wall and the wood joined in a straight line. Decided to go the whole way, I cautiously crouched and picked up the book, almost ripping it with the force I had to exert to dislodge it. I could tell by the old leathery binding that it was a journal, and in fact, a very familiar one. It was my grandfather’s favorite diary, one I recognized from memory. I opened it by forcing the little rusty lock and started reading.
“This is odd…” I thought to myself, when I managed to decipher the cursive that made up the headlines of the pages. At the beginning of the diary, all the dates were from the nineteen century and not especially close to the twentieth. The writing was just a smudge, leaving only fragments of words or letters barely readable. A few pages later, the diary had jumped forty years and while the letter and style were evidently different, the body of text was still blurred enough to make reading possible. The pages started to fall and rip from my rather gentle moves, and about the time I reached the last page written by my own grandfather, a bundle fell out. They were no more than five or six pages, badly scribbled on, but I could tell. With a shiver, I read what my cousin had written there.
//Author’s 2nd Note: As I will relate later, I actually kept a few pages of the diary, hence my ability to post the translation here.\\
8th of December, 2011
As I suspected, mother and dad didn’t bother to lock this place up. It’s really a shame. The house feels old and abandoned and I’m surprised there aren’t any squatters. Well, it’s a rich region. The important thing is, I’m safe here. They won’t get me here, that’s for sure. Not them, not the medics, not the fucking drugs. Yes, yes. Now I understand grandfather. This place is sacred. Here the silence is true. As he had said, he left me a present. His old and esteemed diary, first written by his own great grandfather. I’m so honored. He must really love me.
9th of December, 2011
Why God? Why you do this to me? I woke up this morning and I happened to go for a piss outside when I saw it. It was looming over the gate, looking to the house. I don’t think it saw me. But they know. They know. They know I’m here. I’ve nowhere left to run. I’ll have to start searching what grandfather asked me too. It’s the only way. Now I’m free to end this. What makes me happy is my little friends. This really is a sacred place to have so many of them.
10th of December, 2011
I’ve searched the house up and down. There’s nothing here! The book isn’t here! Grandfather, guide me! I need it! Maybe these words will reach you. Help me find the secret faith! They’ll be here soon. Last night, I saw one standing near the forest gate. By tomorrow they’ll be here too. Help me! Help ME! HELP ME! HELP ME! HELP ME! HELP ME!HELPME!
11th of December
Grandfather has came to me in my dreams and saved me. They were downstairs when I woke up. Grandfather showed me the secret path, the hidden entrance to their web. I found it there. They vanished as soon as I read it. They’re gone. Now, only they exist. They protect me. They sealed the main gate and the backyard into the woods. I don’t need it anyhow.
12th of December
They told me grandfather is coming now. But they need to prepare. They asked me to close the door. The holy book must be kept safe. With them. Yes. In the shadows, where the shadows cannot see it. They’re working on most of the yard. I’m happy. They are so many, so busy. I’m happy too. Granddad will too. I think he’ll love the food I brought them.
13th of December
They say they will start working on the house. I’ve left the door open. We will begin working at once.
(No date on this entry)
I don’t know how many days I’ve spent awake. No, now that I think of it, It’s been none because I’m not tired. Neither am I hungry, since they share their food. I don’t need anything anyway. The house is almost finished. They told me to go wait for my granddad on his bedroom. They’re right. I’ll take the book with me. I have to study it more. It’s so true. So powerful. They are wise. Very wise.
(No date on this final entry too)
They beckoned me. As I read, I understood. They’re coming for me, to take me to the depths. To my grandfather. Yes, I shall await here. Locks will not stop them, for they are the lock that saves me from them. Oh…(the paper had been ripped here.)
I was so captivated by the alien text I only noticed it then. “What the…” I said to myself as I smelled the air. It had become filled with a stench so repulsive, so utterly sickening that made me wonder exactly what type of animal could be decomposing to make this smell. Even weirder, how come I had only noticed it now? It didn’t seem to come from downstairs so, the only possible explanation was that its source was that very room. But, where? I followed my nose and then I noticed. The place where the journal had been stuck wasn’t a wall but a sort of wooden structure. “Might as well go the whole way” I said to myself while I instinctively stuffed the papers in my jacket and pushed the bookshelf aside. I managed to ignore the horrible screeching and, little by little, it was revealed. First, an old doorframe. And, after the second bookshelf had been moved out, an incredibly old looking door. I was perplexed, but I was right on the spot. I could sense a draft behind it, carrying that foul smell. I gulped and opened it, revealing a small staircase that led downward into the darkness. Thankfully, I had a lighter in the keychain to light my way down. That staircase must’ve been two or three stories in length, because when I reached the dirt floor the air was not only saturated with the smell of death, but also with a pungent humidity that contained an earthlike quality reminiscent of an underground cave, making me sneeze. The sound echoed ominously through the dark hallway, bare of paint or decent floor; nothing more than an apparent tunnel carved into the depths of the rock. As I stepped forward, I noticed the markings on the dust beneath my boots. Step by step, someone had recently gone that way which only helped in deepening my latent horror, somehow kept going only by my rational mind. I walked carefully and before long, I reached an open space that reminded me of a crater, since the path was now a rough set of steps that led to the center of the room. The stink was now stronger than ever and I did find some bones scattered around, but they could be from dogs or cats or any other small animal that could have sneaked in there in whatever way. Suddenly, instead of the next step there was a void, almost making me fell. I landed into something wet but, before I could see what it was, I looked up to see on what exactly I had grabbed unto to. The small pedestal was, unlike that room, extremely refined and upon it, a single book. “The Secret Faith of the Spiders” it read in old Portuguese words seared into the leather long ago. I tried to open it but to no avail. The dusty properties of the old volume made me sneeze again and reflexively I looked down.
The “water” was nothing more than a reddish soup of blood with pieces of bone and meat floating around, like ingredients of a savage concoction. But that was not the worse. No, for it was covered in a topping of thousands upon thousands of spiders on its surface, festering and consuming the rotting flesh. And all of them had their sights turned to me, already climbing by the hundreds by my soaked legs. I screamed. Oh I screamed in horror like I never did before. My mind went blank and I knew true fear. I backed down only to hit my back on the steps, which in panic I ran through, falling after a couple of feet. My lantern and keychain flew somewhere into the room and I hurt my knees and arms, but I didn’t care. I had to leave! Touching the wall, I ran so much I almost hit the base of the stairwell. By the time I reached the second floor again, I tried to grab in my panic a bookshelf and barricade the door, but I was unable to do so fast enough thanks to the overwhelming weight. I gave up and ran through the stairs, only to be horrified. The whole house was now covered in webbing, some thick enough to completely block out some rooms. I stormed out of that hell hole into the courtyard, trying to undress the damned jeans that were still filled with spiders. I’ve must have spent ten minutes jumping around in despair, trying to remove them from my skin.
“Breathe, breathe…” I said as I was calming down. I breathed deeply and look down. My blood stained legs were all marked by small bite marks, reassuring me the evil intention of those… things. I just wanted to get out there. I approached the car to find a few strands of web already taking over it, which I quickly removed it. By mere chance, I had not locked the damn thing, otherwise I would have been fucked. I cleaned myself with some wet towels I had in there and pulled out the spare key and left, managing to overcome the embarrassment to buy some jeans along the way. I thought of many things, trust me. The noises, that horror room down there… but I decided not to tell anyone. From what I knew, my family intended to get rid of the house so… why should I care? I live across the ocean, for fucks sake! And so I decided to keep silent about my experiences. I had lost much of my will to speak, so I arrived home and, after going on in a lengthy lie about how I’d lost my keychain and the main key of the car, I just sat in the parlor watching television, secretly hoping that whatever that thing or things were, they would not find me here. “I hope I get out of this country really quickly…” I remembered asking myself.
It was then a good thing when, next morning, my mother informed we had a flight scheduled that very afternoon. We said goodbye to the family and went on our way, having just a little detour. As we entered the local cemetery, I understood my father’s intention. And I too, was glad. One final visit to my cousin, whose terrible fate I now didn’t even want to imagine. As we stood there, looking to his silent tombstone, I thought everything I had experience the day before. Then, that little detail struck me. The date of death was inscribed as 10th of December. I casually mentioned that little “typo” to my father but he just plainly replied that the date was correct. “I retorted, but how could it be? After all he was missing so…”. He looked around to see if anyone but us were near and then he said what I would never forget. “Son, he really WAS missing. That’s why the place they found him was so wrong.” “What do you mean?” “10th of December was the day they took him out of his locked bedroom, half eaten and still warm to the touch.”.
For a few hours, my parents thought that something had gotten to me. Pale and speechless, I left that continent, never to return. I don’t know what happened, and in my mind a part me still asks if I really want to know. But, something’s cannot be unlearned or unseen. Imagine my shock when, in the airport, the metal detector detected the damn pen, cushioned by the pages of that bloody diary. I could have disposed of them, but I didn’t. A gut instinct tells me I’ve crossed the point of no return long ago. There’s no hiding now. That’s why I write this, both as a warning and as a pledge for help. Not that you can really help me. The only way to do so is to, if any of you, ever cross that house in that country, do us all a favor. Burn it to the ground.
Thank you for your time, but I have to take my medications to the leg ulcer. Those bites never healed you know? And as fate would have had it, they get worse by the strain I have to put on them thanks to those damn spiders that insist on covering my house with web so frequently these days…but worst of all, is that permanent smell of dead flesh coming from the basement…
Credit To: Vys