Vicissitudes in the Dark Wood (Pt. 4)

Trapped, staring frozen into the bonfire, Rubin felt the presence swelling behind him. Screaming internally at his body to respond, it was as if his spirit was no longer attached to his body. This wasn’t fear that froze him, he’d known that failure enough to recognise it. This was magic, but so subtle and natural that it could have been breathing.
Vibrations shook the air around him. Not the air, he realised, the ether. His spirit shuddered like a leaf before a mounting storm, the proud Weatherford scholar felt very small and powerless. The vibrations grew, unconcerned by Rubin’s terror until they were almost too much to bear. Instinctively he sought to protect himself from the onslaught on his senses, willing his eyes closed and his hands to cover his ears, but whatever form he now held seemed incapable or unwilling to obey.
And then the thundering roar of the ether stopped.
Something is different, was the first thing he noticed, the colours seemed more vibrant. He looked around and was startled to find that he could. Around him the woods stood, exactly as they had before, but in every way alien, like someone had recreated the world from perceptions of it rather than objective reality. Rubin turned slowly on his heel, cautiously taking in the world, searchingfor explanation or reason. Finding no answer he sought the familiar power of his magic, opening his essence to the ether as he’d done countless times before and instead of trickling forth as he was used to this time the magic erupted like wildfire, igniting the very nature of what he was and burning his very soul. The sudden, indescribable rush of power was too much, far too much for Rubin to contain, let alone control. He screamed, thrashing wildly in his torment when a voice pounded inside skull.
“Kneel. Kneel and worship me.”
Somehow through the mind destroying agony, Rubin remained conscious enough to understand and believe the words. Collapsing into a ball on the ground, he grovelled as sincerely as he could through the pain, praying earnestly for release.
And it was granted.
Weeping on the ground, as much from relief as the recently banished pain, Rubin remained motionless where he lay. Every nerve ending felt raw and tender, every sensation felt a thousand, thousand times more intense, such that the light breeze felt like sand paper. Even this, was bliss compared to the memory of before.

Eventually Rubin opened his eyes, it felt like hours later, but time seemed less real than it had. The woods, exactly as they were in reality, not that terrible other place, but he lain upon his bedroll and it was bright like the sunrise.
Slowly he lifted his head, feeling the weight of his body again. It was heavy, he’d never noticed how heavy it had felt simply to be in his body. Looking around he saw the others going about their early morning business. There was no chance that was a dream, he thought, though the evidence may points, it was simply too much to not be real. With a groan he rolled onto an arm and shakily pushed himself off the ground. Heavy footfalls nearby announced Telfor’s approach.
“Take a walk with me Rubin,” the gruff voice scraped itself across the scholars shoulder before boring its way into his ear. Without waiting for an answer, the grey soldier stomped past, moving into the woods. Unwillingly, but not wanting to start a fight just yet, Rubin followed despite his stiff joints and burning skin. Telfor took him deep enough into the wood to be out of earshit before he wheeled upon him.
“What happened during your watch?”
“I don’t know,” Rubin replied honestly, something about the way the question was asked made him want to lie, “Something happened. It was… horrible.”
Telfor raised a querying eyebrow, his grey, semi-beastial features made him less expressionate than most but this one was obvious. It was disbelief. That brought Rubin back to himself, heat filled his cheeks and he straightened his posture.
“It’s the truth. Some magic took me, and did something that I cannot explain yet. It must have been the work of that witch you made us bring along.”
“Careful, Rubin,” Telfor’s voice was low and quiet, not threatening, but also not without steel, “That’s a serious accusation considering you just told me you don’t know what happened.”
It was true, a malediction like he’d just described was a death sentence. His rational mind understood this, and told him to drop it, but he couldn’t. Something inside him snapped. Anger and frustration refused be contained and before he realised it, it was flowing out of him.
“No. No I refuse. I will not. I have been ignored, assaulted, and overriden. I am not one of your soldiers, Telfor. I am a Journeyman of the Weatherford University. I was entrusted to your band to bring a Necromancer to justice, and now she travels under our protection with promises of secrecy. A crime, punishable by death. I have had enough of your Leadership, on this matter. We have failed to report the undead we encountered in  timely fashion. Verumaleus is dead. And The Necromancer has maledicted me. This is where I draw the line, either you arrest her. Or I’m leaving.”
After the words were out, he already regretted them. He somehow felt wearier than he had before saying them. But unwilling to back down, he set his gaze and waited for a response. The pair stood staring at one another in silence for a time, until eventually Telfor bowed his head.
“Alright, Rubin. I’m listening, tell me exactly what happened. I believe you.”


Welcome back,
Third consecutive upload, and this one wasn’t completed the night it was due. Go me.
I’m quite pleased with this one, it’s probably fairly obvious how much I enjoy cosmic horror, I have a deep appreciation for the unfeeling, incomprehensible, things that awe and terrify us. Whether that concept comes to you through the vastness of space, the search for meaning or purpose, or something else, I find that style very powerful.
And as a fairly novice writer who enjoys a thing, I probably overuse said thing. I expect the story will become more grounded by the time the party arrives in the city. The series is called Blood and Lies after all, and we’ve had surprisingly little of both.
In news about my life; writing off the blog has gone slowly, and to my shame I haven’t read anything new, but I’m continuing to lose weight down 3kg now, and finally I’m very excited to run the first game of new Vampire: The Requiem next sunday.
My song for this installment: Baying of the Hounds – Opeth
Featured art: Shadow Demon by Keith 

Hope you enjoy it,
-Zairron

Run Like Hell

The last story for my Halloween celebration, unfortunate that I couldn’t get a story out ever day but I’m happy to have tried.

With November’s arrival, I’ll be trying my hand at NaNoWriMo, I’d like to come out of the experience with a first draft for a full novel. I’ll be trying to get out blogs chronicling my experience as well as short stories from the three series’ I’ve already started, it’ll be a tough goal, but I’ll do my best.

If you like short storieshorror, cyberpunk, fantasy or fantasypunk, I have plenty of stories you might be interested in checking out.

Hope you enjoy it,
– Zairron


“You can’t escape us forever, yknow!”

It glares up at me, crowing imperiously. Steadily I increase the force of my heel on the carapace-like resistance I feel within the shadow. Disgusting creatures, their confidence is unfortunately not without merit. Despite outward appearances, theirs is the boot grinding me into the dirt.
Weak, but defiantly without fear, the it’s guttering tendrils of manifest shadows writhe like dying flames from the creature’s body. Vaguely humanoid within it’s eldritch caul, I can’t help but feel contempt, disgust and fear, at it’s mere presence.

“Did you hear me, you walking corpse! We’ll find ya!”

The ritual complete, I stomp heavily with my booted foot. The monsters chitinous skull shatters beneath my heel, releasing a thin tenebrous mist and dissolving the thing’s physical form as it is banished back to the abyss.

“I know…”

I’ve got to move quick. They move in pairs, and it’s never long before more show up. The pale grey tint on my visions gives the train station the appearance of one of those old detective films. It’s fitting, the men in those movies always die at the end, too.
I take the concrete stairs two or more at a time, thankfully the place is mostly empty at this time of night. Ahead a handful of young guys, drinking rambunctiously by the exit. I keep my head low, desperately wanting to avoid a confrontation, but I should have known better than to hope. If I’d been just an ordinary person, these guys probably still would have started something with me. They’re young, dumb and full of piss and vinegar, while I on the other hand, am old and tired.
Unfortunately for them and me, I’m not an ordinary person, and If I can’t get past them quickly, it’ll be worse for all of us. Keeping my head down I quick my pace to try and rush past but the nearest of them steps suddenly into my path, bumping me and sending me sprawling.

“Hey, watch it.”

I mumble something I hope sounds apologetic, scrambling to my feet. Already the four of them are moving to surround me, I recognise from their body language they plan to pin me in and either harass or assault me. The one who bumped into me isn’t tall, but he looks strong and postures like a kid with something to prove.
I can feel my shoulder and shin, where I collided with him, burning. The heat slowly being drawn through my body and pooling in the side of my neck. Still cool, I note, there’s a chance this won’t go any further.
Suddenly I feel hands roughly shove me in the chest, slamming me into the brick wall behind me. The air is knocked from my lungs, and I realise while I’d been distracted by my thoughts, I’d ignored the kid say something. A bad mistake.

“I said, what are you going to do about bumping into me like that, old man?”

Heat from my chest and back, collects beneath the mark on my neck. It’s warm now, distressingly so. Regardless, this time I hear him. From what he’s said, I suspect he doesn’t want to fight, just look tough.
I notice a spilled drink on the ground where we’d collided, unlikely related to our collision, it’s something. With shaking hands I reach into my pocket, pulling out my wallet and offering it’s contents, “Did I knock over your drinks, fellas? I’m sorry, this should be enough to replace them, shouldn’t it?”

The boy understands me, and I understand him. Underneath his arrogant veneer, he’s relieved that he’s saved face without actually having to hurt me. He sits the lowest on whatever social ranking this group has, he’s not a bad kid, just trying to impress them. With loud, drunken cheers, the other boys cheer him on as they roughly jostle me out of the circle.
My neck is hot now. Painfully so, each shove forces more heat until I can feel myself reaching my limit. I need to get out of here, but if I shove past them or run, there’s no way I’ll avoid clashing with them. Searching for a serene place in my mind I try desperately to drift through them like a leaf on the water.
Just as I’m about to be clear of them, the biggest of them shoves me hard. Once more I find myself on the floor, this time my palms scraped and bleeding. My neck is on fire. I pray for just a little bit longer, then all at once. I’m cool.

Time freezes in that half second of relief. I’m filled with absolute ecstasy, the kind I could never hope to describe. More visceral than sex, deeper than love, more thrilling than victory, it’s like a every drug imaginable, all at once.
Then comes the fall. I am made of brittle ice and I shatter, releasing all the demons of hell to frolic like a forest fire. The four boys scream in terror, then agony. I close my eyes, unwilling to look at them. I pray, reciting the prayers my father had taught me when I was young, the ones I’d never listened to back then, the ones my brother knew far more of than I ever had.
For an eternity I’m forced to listen as the boys die. Only once forever has ended am I brought back to the train station. Wearily I stand. The four boys are cowering at the far side of the station, watching me like I was the devil himself. I suppose to them I might be.

I want to say something, do something to help them. But there is nothing. They have been judged and punished, and my pursuers are already nearby. Kneeling down, I take back the money I’d given them, having been dropped in the confusion. I needed it more than they did, after all.
Stepping into the night beyond, bright with street lights, I can see the familiar shift in the darkness across the way. I want to sleep, but with tonight’s sin, I must be like a beacon to them. So I run. I run like hell.

Trick or Treat?

Currently I’m writing stories by picking random horror tropes from TV Tropes. Today, I got “The Calls Are Coming From Inside The House”.

If you like short storieshorror, cyberpunk, fantasy or fantasypunk, I have plenty of stories you might be interested in checking out.

Hope you enjoy it,
– Zairron


My first Halloween in a new country, here the shops put up token sales gimmicks but otherwise the season is a foreign concept here. Bowl of treats on the couch beside me, while an old horror movie about a babysitter plays on the TV, I haven’t had a single trick or treater and don’t expect there will be.
Since moving to Australia, these holidays make me miss home the most. I’ve not been here long, and I’m not particularly good at socialising, so I haven’t made any friends to share the time with. It’s not that I regret coming here, if I had to choose again I’d still take the job. It just kinda sucks seeing the pictures of my friends back home, having fun in their costumes, with their decorations, without me.

While I’m busy feeling sorry for myself in the lounge room, I hear my phone ringing from my room where I’d left it charging. My first thought is that one of my friends back home, drunk at a party is calling me to let me know they all miss me, the thought’s a nice one, if a little bitter. It’s only when I see the call is from an unknown number that I remember that it would still be morning there.

“Hello?” I answer, it’s late so I feel justified dropping the politeness.

For a moment there is silence from the other end of the line, I can hear the crackle of the speakers telling me the call is connected, but receive no response to my greeting. I remove the phone from my ear to check the screen, sure enough it agrees the call is connected.
I suppose it might be a prank call, or some kind of shitty automated calling thing. Annoying, but not as unusual as it should be.

“Hello? Is anyone there?” I repeat myself, giving the caller another chance just to be sure. Met once again with silence, I’m feeling pretty pissed off. I’m already in a bad mood, and I’ve go no patience this this nonsense, so I blow off a little steam by venting into the mouth piece, “Alright, asshole. This shit ain’t funny, so why don’t you go fuck yourself and find someone else to annoy.”

Ending the call, I plug he phone back into the charger and return to my movie, actually feeling a little better than before. It’s a guilty pleasure, but who doesn’t enjoy telling off a telemarketer? I don’t usually have the guts, so I’m feeling pretty pleased with myself.
At least until I hear the phone ringing again, just as I’m seated once more. Releasing a deep, annoyed sigh, I contemplate leaving it to ring out, but I’ve never been able to ignore a ringing phone, just in case it’s an important call.
I have to rush to the phone now, since I let it ring so long while considering ignoring it. For some reason I feel the need to switch on the hallway light, the dark doesn’t scare me, but this time it seems necessary.

The moment my hand reaches the phone, it rings out. I stare at it blankly, usually I’d call back, but my history put the number as unknown. If it was the same number calling, I guess missing the call might have been a blessing in disguise.
Whatever the reason, I decide to bring my charger with me into the lounge room in case I get any more calls. In my room, I can hear the haunting soundtrack of the movie I was watching still playing in the lounge. One of those low, rhythmic pieces that emulate the claustrophobic feeling of your frightened heart beating heavily in your chest.
I hit the light in my room, walking quickly through the dark hallway back to the lounge. Weird, I must have turned off the light by habit before I made it into my room.

The heat here is horrible, back home it’s getting towards the end of autumn, while here it feels like the height of summer. Despite all that, I can feel a chill as I enter the lounge. Not that the room is cold, it’s still muggily hot, but through that I still feel that shiver piece me.
I decide I’ve had enough horror movies for now, closing out of the player on my laptop. It’s been a long time since I eaten too much sugar and watched scary movies, I guess I don’t have a tolerance for it any more. Still over an hour away from midnight, I don’t want to go to bed yet, so I jump on facebook to see what’s going on. Notifications of a couple messages from back home at the bottom of my screen.

Reading them, I felt the claustrophobic pounding of my heart pounding in my chest, this time without the soundtrack. Each message followed the same theme, less than an hour old, the oldest read, “Got a call from you but couldn’t hear you, what’s up?”
Knowing I hadn’t called anyone, I feel the fear I’d been dismissing since that first call grow powerful enough to demand I acknowledge it. Opening my phone, I check my outgoing call history. Five outgoing calls over the past hour, four to the friends I’d received messages from. One to a number I didn’t recognise.

The phone begins to ring in my hand. The screen shows an unknown number, the fifth number on my outgoing calls. My throat clenches apprehensively. There must have been someone in the house with me, possibly there still is. My common sense screams at me to get out of the house, ignore the call and contact the police, but I’m frozen in place.
My mind blank with fear, well practised habits built up over a lifetime take over and I accept the call, raising the phone to my ear and answering with the polite response I’d learned at home, “Hello, this is Jordan Alexander speaking, how can I help you?”

Slow, sinister laughter answers my greeting, my heart continues pounding faster and harder, “Trick or Treat, Jordan?”

“W-What?” I barely get the word out, my mouth is dry and unresponsive.

“I said, Trick… or Treat?”

I’m scared. Wouldn’t you be? I don’t know what to say, I don’t even know if I can say anything. Before I can answer the caller does so for me.

“Come on now, Jordan, you’re an American aren’t you? You should know that this is the part where you say, ‘Treat'”

“T-Treat”

“Good boy,” the low voice teases, “I’m gratefully for the entertainment you gave me tonight, as a present I left you a treat for you in your room. Happy Halloween.”

The click of the call ending broke the spell of fear that had been cast over me, I race from the house to my car. Checking the backseat for murderers, I peel out of the driveway and drive as fast as I can out of there.
I don’t stop until I’m in a brightly lit, populated area. Immediately I call the police and report what happened. As soon as that’s over, I break down and cry.

Eventually I receive a call back, they searched my house and found no-one there. What they did find was a picture of the back of my head while I’d been watching the movie, impaled through my skull into the underside of my bed using a long, sharp knife taken from the kitchen.

New Home

We are taught to explain away the supernatural, what adult truly believes in ghosts any more? Of course, we also explain the unknown with stories of superstition. So which is it? Is a strange series of coincidences just that? Or might it be something else?

If you like short storieshorror, cyberpunk, fantasy or fantasypunk, I have plenty of stories you might be interested in checking out.

Hope you enjoy it,
– Zairron


Stepping down from the moving truck, Bidelia stands on the curb looking proudly up at her new home. From the beginning; finding the listing online, walking through, applying and being approved for the loan, even when signing the papers, it had felt more like a dream. But now that feeling was beginning to fade. The solidness of keys she holds firmly in her hand, the movers carrying furniture and boxes inside, the reality of the moment is finally dawning on her. Feeling excitement bubbling up inside her chest, after so many years believing she’d never be able to afford to own her own home, she’s almost too scared to express her happiness, in case it all comes crashing down.
She wasn’t the first of her friends to own their own home, but they had all built there’s far out in the suburbs or the country, often with help from family and spouses. The market is prohibitive for first time buyers without taking on a lifetime of debt, that’s why she’d been so shocked to find this house listed at such a low price for it’s incredible, central location. From a young age she’d been careful with her money, squirrelling every spare dollar away towards her dream of owning her own place. No more sharing a bathroom, putting up with housemates dirty dishes, or having to ask permission before having people over, or a party, or anything. Chuckling to herself she gleefully wonders, if this is what it means to be an adult, why does it feel like such a childish joy?

“Miss?” one of the movers’ voice from just behind her, “We’re done moving everything inside, the big stuff is all in the rooms you wanted. Did you want our help setting up the furniture, or is that all you’re wanting?”

“No, thank you, I’ll manage it from here,” Bidelia smiles, after the first hour they charge by ten minute intervals, so keeping their time here short was preferable. As she pulled her wallet from her pocket to pay him, she notices one of the movers with a bloody rag wrapped around his forearm that hadn’t been there before. Directing the movers attention to the injured man she asks, “What happened to him? Did something happen inside?”

With a reassuring shrug, the mover answers, “Scrapped his arm up on the fridge, just took the top layer of skin off, didn’t even start to bleed until long after he got the bandage on. Nothing was damaged and there was no blood on anything of your things.”

Humming with suspicion, Bidelia leaves it as is, preferring to just let them leave and if there’s any damage she can complain later. Opening her wallet, she trades money for receipt absently while focusing on the injured man waiting by the truck, there is something off about him that she can’t quite determine.
Even as the senior mover thanks her and returns to his partner, their exchange just seems weird. They exchange a few words too quiet to hear before climbing up into the truck, she could have sworn the injured man had looked back at her, or possibly past her. He seemed frightened. It was unnerving, but likely nothing, so with a polite wave, she pushes the concerns to the back of her mind and tries to retrieve her previous feeling of triumph and excitement as she enters her new home for the first time since it was hers.

The inside hadn’t changed since the inspection, other than the inclusion of her furniture and worldly goods cluttering up the place, making it feel much smaller and less empty. By no means ugly, the house is generally quite plain. The cream white walls and dark brown floors leave it feeling like a blank canvas, something she can easily build on to feel more like hers. She’d been thinking about it a lot since the purchase had gone through, her mental image clear as crystal, she opens the box left by the front door and lifts out the artwork her best friend had painted for her birthday so many years ago. One of her most prized possessions since it had been made specially for her, she knew she wanted to make it the centrepiece of the entire house.
Taking the hammer and nails from the same box, she carries them and the painting to the lounge. Dragging and positioning the furniture to give the placement better context, she holds it up and visualising the complete room set up, she confirms the decision in her mind.
Placing the picture on the floor, she taps carefully a the wall, searching out the higher, solid tone of the stud. Finding it she carefully holds the nail to the wall, lining the hammer up to strike when suddenly a shiver runs along her spine disrupting her concentration. Suddenly feeling less secure and alone, she turns and looks around. As before the room is empty and silent except for her.
After a long pause, she turns back to the wall. Lining up the hammer and nail, the feeling of unease returns at a lower intensity. Bidelia deciding it must be apprehension at the thought of putting a hole in her new home, takes a calming breath and brings the hammer down on the nails head.

“Fuck!” she exclaims, dropping the nail and hammer and clutching her painfully throbbing thumb. She’d messed up with the hammer struck her thumb, blood painfully welling up beneath the nail. Whimpering in pain and fury, she can hardly believe she could have missed her strike. From her childhood she’d been helping her dad building and fixing things out in the shed, she couldn’t even remember the last time she’d missed the mark like this before.
Glaring up at the wall, the anxiety from before now passed, she reflects on her memory of the strike. With hindsight she was still confident in her strike, cursing and clutching her thumb, it was almost as if the wall itself had shifted at the last moment to force her to mess up. Recognising the absurdity of the thought she immediately buries it along with the tiny ember of worry, thinking to herself, Must have been distracted by that mover hurting themself, I’ll come back to it later… 

Hardly Human

A short story following a survivor from an unknown tragedy. Survival and living have become separate things.

If you like short storieshorror, cyberpunk, fantasy or fantasypunk, I have plenty of stories you might be interested in checking out.

Hope you enjoy it,
– Zairron


Sweating and breathing heavily, the short walk to the pond seems much longer this time. With the weight of her pack and homemade dredge slung across her shoulder, she might have stopped to break long ago if she were more connected to herself.
The worst has passed, Marcelle reassures herself for the most recent time. Still, deeply in shock she hardly feels human. Her thoughts seem to come from outside herself. She understood that without access to fresh water and food, her supplies wouldn’t last much longer. Until those problems were solved, breaking down would have to wait.
All around her even the natural background noise seems to be holding it’s breath in silent reverence. Standing in the wake of the destruction that had passed like a storm, the stillness made it feel like it could have all been a dream. Only the broken fences and massacred or missing livestock and wildlife made it real.
Everything in the area that wasn’t dead was frightened and hiding, she empathised. Almost a week ago had passed before she had dared venture out of doors, without the desperate need for clean water she might never have gone out again.
I’ll have to clear the trees near the house, the distant voice in her head spoke, I’ll need the visibility and I can use the wood to rebuild.

Dropping her pack and dredge, she drops to the ground, drinking from her bottle she looks out the pond before her. The water is brown, giving no visibility of what may lie below the surface. As she expected, but still it scared her.
Before all of this began she couldn’t have imagined the reality where she’d be wading, waist in the filthy pond, let alone doing so after any number of those monsters could have fallen in and stayed there. Maybe it all was a dream, that’d explain why she thought this was a good idea.
Pulling on her fisherman’s waders, water tight rubber pants that go up to her chest, thick rubber gloves and covering her arms with several layers of duct tape for protection, Marcelle wades fearfully into the pond, pulling the chain dragging the dredge along the bottom behind her.
Step by shaking step the risks of potentially uncovering one of those monsters hidden within the muck keeps the animal part of her mind that had woken when they had come, screaming for her to turn back, to run and hide. Water swirls and rushes into the holes left in the mud by her wrenching her rubber boot free from the sucking mud. Reflected on the surface as only the slightest ripples, the violent swirling eddies created by her motion must be like a neon sign if any of those monsters are lurking down there. The only upside is that the water dampens the sound from below the water, preventing it from travelling over land and attracting others.

An hour and more passes, her hooked plough catches a number of dead things in it’s teeth. Calves half eaten and abandoned, left bloated and rotting, trapped in the mud, while more corpses seem to have been simply torn apart and tossed aside,  as if out of pure maliciousness and spite.
Having covered over half the area of the pond, if an infestation lurked beneath, she almost certainly would have encountered them bey now. The distant voice agreed, monsters as strong as they had seen could hardly have been trapped by mud and water. It made sense, but somehow using logic didn’t feel appropriate when considering those things.
Another hour passes, satisfied that she had found every chunk of rotted flesh she was going to, today. The stench was surreal, combined with the way the sodden meat sloughed off as she dragged it from the pond anyone would have forgiven her for been sick, but a cattle farmer, Marcelle had pulled dead things from the water before. Never this many, and rarely this far into decomposition, but along with her shocked sense of detachment, she worked tirelessly and without regard for her senses.

Usually she’d drag the corpses out to the back paddocks, far from anything and let nature handle them, but with the truck destroyed that wasn’t an option. She didn’t want to burn them, especially as water laden as they were, risking calling them back with the amount of smoke it’d make just wasn’t worth it. She’d have to bury them.
A hole deep enough and large enough for all of them would take hours more work, and she was already exhausted. Sun’s going down, her inner voice whispers. Her animal mind understands, the dark belongs to the monsters, it was time to go back. Stripping off and abandoning the waders and tape armour, Marcelle leaves them and her dredge by the pond and begins moving back towards the home.

That was good work today, going outside was good, Marcelle ignores the voice, the concept of good still alien. Work distracts from the fear and pain. It is the voice that keeps bringing back the pain. Forcing her to remember.
Thankfully it goes quiet, leaving her to rest in the secret sanctuary she built her mind. It hurts less when it is quiet. When it is quiet she is alone, when she is alone she doesn’t need to think about what had happened. Thinking about the past, the future, that’s what the voice was for.
She worked, slept and hid. That was all she wanted.

She made it home before the light died. The barricades in the same shape she’d left them. Creeping into the building, securing the entrance behind her, she eats cold beans in the dark before curling up in bed.
Sleep doesn’t come quickly, despite her tired state and when it does come it is a fitful sleep. While she sleeps she cannot filter her memories, nor fears for the future. Her nightmares might be the healthiest thing for her, allowing her to sort through her trauma, but that doesn’t make it any easier.
She has grown used to waking with tears streaming down her face and a scream held down in her throat by the fear of being found. Those terrible moments the closest she’ll be to human all day.

We Are The Hunters

A dark sci-fi exploring the arms race of military technology, lightly touching on ethics and dangers within that.

If you like short storieshorror, cyberpunk, fantasy or fantasypunk, I have plenty of stories you might be interested in checking out.

Hope you enjoy it,
– Zairron


A low thrumming electrical buzzing fills the darkened hallway, the air in here is thick and humid with a strange, sickening taste to it. The atmospheric readout in my visors H.U.D. informs me as it identifies and filters out numerous elements through the breathing apparatus in my helmet, supplementing the air I carried with me with the remaining eighty or so percent breathable air.
The map my suits sensors constructed of the areas layout show only dull, faded out lines that represent the structural layout, nothing indicates the presence of activity anywhere in five-hundred meters. The 360 degree view of my surroundings, and heightened senses of smell and hearing, I’m granted by the neural interface with my suit support my computers readings. I’m intimately aware of the presence and location of every member of my team, but I can’t shake this implacable feeling of unease.
The carapace of my armour rubs against itself, noise dampening cloth between the armoured plates keep us as silent as possible. The suit’s reassuring weight contrasted by the vague anxiety the restrictions it puts on my freedom of movement make me feel both invulnerable as well as trapped in different measures.
Simon’s voice speaks in my ear, “Found a body at my location, it’s fresh.”

“Roger that,” Sergeants reply, “All units continue to secure the vicinity, Simon switch positions with Ryan. Ryan find where it went.”

Five of us and two entrances to this room, I move to cover the entrance nearest my vicinity. Leading deeper into the complex, air flow is stagnant at the entrance.
Training my rifle at the entrance, I wait for Lisa to arrive and cover me before I check beyond the doorway. The hall is partially collapsed, my sensors return a muddled report of the area ahead. I don’t like it, moving ahead will be unfavourable terrain.
Finding the immediate proximity of the hallway secure, I plant a sentry over the door frame before sealing the entrance and falling back to Lisa’s position. Task complete we separate and return to searching the room for clues.
The room is significant in size, four-hundred meters across at it’s widest point. Originally a living area for the occupants of the complex, based on the state of the place the computer estimates the area to have been unused for at least four months. Subtle signs of activity indicate our quarry had passed through here within the past twenty-four hours. However reports and evidence until now had suggested it was alone, the body Simon found was a concerning advancement.
No further useful information is recovered until Ryan’s report, “I don’t know how to say this Sergeant, but this is him.”

“What are you talking about, Ryan?” her response sounding like she was right beside me.

“I mean, the DNA matches. The body and our quarry are the same guy.”

There’s a moment of pause as Alice considers what to make of Ryan’s statement. Most of the details pertaining to the quarry were classified to us, we did know that it was an extremely dangerous artificial human who had evaded and taken out the first team that was sent to retrieve it.
I looked over the biological readings for the team members, slightly heightened heart rates and hormone levels, particularly in Ryan. Within acceptable parameters, I decide, Ryan’s readings warrant continued observation. Alice remained the most collected, her experience in the field proving itself.

“Cause of death?” she requests.

“Spontaneous shut down,” Ryan answers, “Sorry Sergeant, it’s unclear. It was a technical, rather than biological failure. Could have been a failure due to strenuous use, an EMP event, or something else.”

“What’s your best guess?”

There’s a long pause before Ryan replies, there is a spike in his anxiety levels, leaving healthy parameters for a single tic, “Purely from these readings… I’d attribute it to a remote shut down.”

“Impossible, if they could shut it down remotely they wouldn’t have needed to send us after him.”

“Yeah,” Ryan answers, acknowledging the logic though seeming unconvinced.

“Doesn’t matter,” Alice states firmly. She’s noticed Ryan’s emotional state just as I have and moved to intercept it, “We’ve got what we came here for, Marcus, get the body. We’re heading back.”

I move quickly, aided by Simon and Lisa we attach the body to a harness and lift it onto my back. I hardly notice the added weight, the mechanised strength of my suit automatically compensating for the change.
Everyone is on edge as we return through the way we came. The journey back to the surface is tense and silent, my team members are paranoid, in their experience when our quarry dies it is because we killed it. The change in this dynamic is uncomfortable to them, we are Jaeger Team, We are The Hunters. We’re used to operating without all of the information, our quarry is usually the kind of prey that the ordinary forces either can’t handle, or are not allowed to. Prey that requires us cannot be taken out by a kill switch, or the gangs that hide in the abandoned tunnels.
What happened, doesn’t happen. With one exception were all recruited from experienced and decorated careers prior. It is clear they expect a trap.

I must commend their instincts, they are truly the best soldiers humanity has to offer. Their upgrades have made them even more formidable, stronger, faster, smarter and more perceptive, but it is those instincts that made them the only ones worthy of being the final subjects for testing.
If they had been slightly more human, slightly less machine, perhaps Ryan’s instincts could have recognised that the body they found and their quarry’s shared DNA was a deception. Without their reliance on easily fooled machines to keep track of one another, they may have noticed as I took Marcus’ place in their team.
The results for the test are conclusive, the Jaeger team were no longer the pinnacle. Their over specialisation has weaknesses, the hunters have been made obsolete. My superiors will be pleased.

Hatred

This story is open to some interpretation. I’ve attempted to leave it open as to whether it is Fantasy, Sci-Fi or Psychological, with a couple possible endings.

If you like short storieshorror, cyberpunk, fantasy or fantasypunk, I have plenty of stories you might be interested in checking out.

Hope you enjoy it,
– Zairron


Stepping determinedly over the patches of burning embers smoking at the front of the building, Konstantin approaches the ruined building, nudging the door unsteadily hanging on its broken hinges open revealing the building’s charred innards.
Within, the burnt out corpse of his childhood home awaits him. Kunigunde, he decides immediately, unwilling to consider any other possibility. It is silent but for the strained groans of the desiccated supports, no-one would interrupt his investigation until it was too late.

Entering cautiously, he is wary of the risk of imminent structural collapse but resolute in his need for answers. Blackened and charred, the walls have been weakened but unbroken by the fires touch. What remains can hardly be recognised for what it once was. The moment he passes the threshold he can feel the extreme fear and agony underpinned with pure malicious hatred that lingers.
His throat burns with every breath of the hot air, lingering smoke coils lazily within his nostrils and rests there. Hidden within the powerful smells, another is present. A too familiar mixture of scents tell a grotesque story. Like meat and fat burnt on charcoal, it is suffused with the sulphurous stench of burnt hair mingling with strange traces of coppery, metallic components, and sweet, musky perfumes. Unmistakable, the fire had trapped someone inside. He has no doubt that this had been the goal of the fire.
Idiot and Coward that he is, even Konstantin knows better than to ignore the torment that haunts this place.

Quickly surveying the debris he finds the two unrecognisable burnt bodies, a man and woman. Sascha and Lena, his assumption, the kind folk who had raised them. He didn’t cry for them, he had run out of tears long ago, but he ached, their suffering clear.
They had been protected, of course, but it had moved past times when such attempts might have worked. Placing his hand lightly on his chest as if to support the weight of the delicate chain hung from his neck, perhaps feeling his guilt added to its burden.
He prays they can forgive him for how he used them, Sascha and Lena were far from perfect, but he cannot believe they had deserved this. He whispers that tired mantra to himself again, “It is necessary.”

Drawing a small, clear glass bottle from his pocket, he removes the cap and covering the opening with his thumb, upends the bottle. Whispering a prayer he touches the cool water on his thumb to the foreheads of corpses, with the gentle offering the tormentous atmosphere gradually settles and fades, leaving only the distant hostility.
Rising slowly to his feet, brushing absently at the ashes on his knees, only succeeding in spreading them. Sweat mingles with the soot, creating a cloying layer of filth upon his exposed flesh. He hardly notices however, his focus fully on finding something he had hidden years earlier.
His focus suffers in the heat and smoke, sapping at his energy and leaving him dizzy. Closing his eyes, he conjures an image of his sisters to mind, remembering the last time they had been here together, the location of the lock comes eventually to him. Drained and invigorated simultaneously, he feels his guts twist and shock with cold, but continues to move towards the place they had hidden it.
Hidden inside the crawlspace, the doorway down to the secret place was locked by a special lock. Around his neck hung his copy of the key he shared with Maja’s, they had sworn never to open the door, but repeating his mantra again he placed the key in the lock, turning it is met with an audible click.
Raising his hands, palms face down, he whispers the words that open the second lock.

“It is necessary”

He feels the second click which carries no physical sound, accepting the key phrase. The secret place now opened for what should be the first time in years, his determination falters momentarily.
He battled with his choice in the final hour, before turning back would no longer be an option. They locked the door for a reason, his thoughts so obvious he may as well have spoken them aloud, Maja had understood the danger, she had convinced him to lock the door and  now it was her absence that had driven him to return. He could either trust in Maja and walk away, or press on and take responsibility. Deep down Konstantin is a coward, he had already broken his promise by opening the door and this is why, in the end, he came to join me in the darkness.

***

Within the secret place proper, the door slams closed behind him. I can feel his terror rise. A pure, animalistic panic overwhelms him as he struggles with the door, screaming and pounding on it with everything he has. For a moment I savour his reaction, I understand the futility of his struggles better than anyone, the door will not open.

“Welcome home brother,” he freezes, the touch of my voice almost having been forgotten, “I missed you.”

Filling with dread he turns back towards me, the fear he feels for me somehow even greater than of being trapped here forever. His relief palpable at the sight of my restraints.
Idly I wonder if he can feel my emotions as clearly as I can feel his. In him fear, uncertainty and guilt rule, but I am calm. Whether he understands or not, soon it will become clear.

“Where is Maja?”

“Not here, brother,” I answer, as soft and soothing as a snake.

“But you know.”

It wasn’t a question. If I could, I would have smiled, “How could I? I am trapped here, you and her made certain of that.”

“Don’t lie to me, Kunigunde.”

I remain silent, he knows I cannot lie to them, less deny them. Not restrained as I am. He still believes I started the fire. Even now, with me as I am, he fears me.

I hate him for that.

“How-”

“I didn’t.”

Poor fool. He knows I cannot lie, he knows I cannot leave, he knows I did both. I don’t care to follow at his pace, so I continue.

“Why did you and Maja lock me down here, brother?”

Confusion. He never needed to be smart, Maja liked him better that way.

“You were dangerous!” he exclaims, truly believing it, “The things you did to that boy…”

I remain silent as he pauses, expecting me to speak. He needs no further guidance.

“God, do you think it makes me happy to keep you here? What choice did we have? You were stronger than us, you did horrible things. When Maja told me what you’d done, I could hardly believe it.”

“Why did you?”

“What do you mean?”

“Why did you believe her and not me?”

He has no answer. He’d always feared what we could do, and feared me because I hadn’t. When Maja told him I was evil, he had been all too willing to believe her. Together they ambushed and trapped me here.
Hot rage fills me. Because he was too much of a coward to even face me, I had been trapped in this purgatory for years. I loathed him.
But we were together not. Brother and sister, trapped for eternity in the dark. He looks at me like I am insane, perhaps he can feel my emotions. My glee must seem like madnes to him, but he has never hated someone like I have. In time, I think he will.

 

Beyond the Trail

A story of one who has heard the voice of the ancient world. Within whom a seed of darkness grows and pulls them away from humanity. The product of a fragile human mind, or something of a more unknowable nature, that’s for you to decide.

If you like short storieshorror, cyberpunk, fantasy or fantasypunk, I have plenty of stories you might be interested in checking out.

Hope you enjoy it,
– Zairron


The leaves rustle softly in the slight breeze of the morning. The suns glorious yellow rays drift luxuriously down onto the rainforest, but by some magic the distant atmosphere seems to cover the ground in a deep, ephemeral blue. All this beauty. For miles, only the other hikers share this tranquil experience.
With the gradual shift in temperature I can feel spreading through my muscles, warming me to my bones. The thin early morning fog that characterised the drive here has faded, altering the feel of the air. My blood already pumping from the exertion of the walk, I can feel the gentle radiating heat on my skin developing a sheen of sweat. Stopping to sip from my water, I take the moment to admire the strange quiet beauty of these Blue Mountains.
The valley below manages to seem small in the shadow of the mountains, but I know from experience that it covers many miles. Reaching as far as I can see in all directions the rainforest is a dark and mysterious expanse of nature beyond human comprehension. So many people have walked this same trail every day; tens, hundreds, even thousands during tourist seasons. Wisely most keep to the trails. For the most part common sense and guidance from officials of the park keeps people from straying from the paths, and beyond that is the deep instinctive understanding we all carry deep inside us of the primordial danger that exists in the wild places of the world. Still, some choose to ignore both the explicit and implicit warnings given to them and walk beyond the reach of civilisation. Perhaps these are people who honestly wish to die, perhaps they carry some vestigial trait held by our ancestors that compel them to scout beyond lands we control or perhaps some madness beckons to them, singing a sirens song from the deep places. Whatever reasoning drives us, I have never been able to completely deny that little voice that compels me.

I return my water pack and heft it back over my shoulders. Silent claws of anxious disquiet scratch inside me, bubbling up with an animalistic desire. The feeling is always there, but when I come here it is like a living thing has awoken and strains at its chains. Moving forward soothes it but when I stop it grows fierce.
This trail is more familiar to me than the lines of my own face, I have walked it more times than I have looked at my reflection, after all. I don’t remember how young I was when I was first brought here by my family. It was a family holiday with my parents and my brother, I don’t have strong memories of it, but something about it planted a seed in me that spent years waiting.
I came back for the first time when they died.
At my parents funeral, memories of that holiday came back to me for the first time in years. At first they were just passing memories, but as the days went by, executing their will, dealing with the well meaning attentions of family, I couldn’t stop thinking about the mountains. It was strange, of course, I’d never cared much for hiking, nor really thought of the mountains. In the end I decided to come, feeling it was perhaps my subconscious mind telling me to seek closure with a fond memory or something.
That first trip was just for a weekend. I took a bus, got a hotel, did the tourist thing and went home. For a time I thought that was enough, the feeling faded and I felt refreshed. I still grieved my parents, of course, but it was easier now. Like I’d laid them to rest somehow by following their memory.
But that wasn’t the end of it. The memories came back, this time with a deep gnawing hunger to them. I felt like I was starving. I didn’t recognise it at first, I thought I was depressed. Drugs and counselling didn’t help, other than to help me realise the source of my emptiness.
The second time I came for a whole week. I rented an airbnb, but hardly saw it. I felt more alive that week than I had ever remembered feeling. I walked the trails, and drank in the serenity. I filled myself with the energy of the place and was content.
When I went home I was hollow. Like someone had scraped away everything that had made me whole and left just a shell.

When I came back this time I brought a camper. I’ve been happy here. I don’t know what it is that drives people like me to come here, to seek out deep places beyond the reach and sight of civilisation. I know I am not the only one like this. I have seen others who walk the trails, I can recognise them by sight now. There is something in our eyes, or in the way that we walk, something I can’t quite define, but something quite real.
There is a woman, I don’t know her name, I’ve never spoken to her, we rarely talk to one another, we understand well enough without having to say anything. She was here before I came, I first saw her walking the trails on my second time. She’s further along than I am, her hunger is deeper and more visceral. I don’t always see her on the trails any more, I suspect she doesn’t stop and turn back when she reaches the deepest points of the trails, like I do, any more. She just keeps walking.
She always comes back eventually. I wonder what exactly she is looking for. What she is finding further in the forest than I am brave enough to go. I wonder if her hunger is sated. If one day she won’t come back. If one day my fear of leaving the trail won’t be greater than the hunger that urges me to keep going.
But I don’t wonder too much. These beautiful blue mountains are far too tranquil to loiter on such thoughts for long. For now, I enjoy the weight of my pack on my shoulders, the gentle sounds of nature, and the pleasant exertion the hike puts on my body.

For now I am happy, that is enough.

Give Me Your Soul… Please (pt. 3)

The third and final part of my homage to Give Me Your Soul… Please, by King Diamond. The album tells a story of a haunted house, below is my take on the fantastic album. With an ending adjusted to fit the medium.

My deepest apologies for the break between my last update and this, I’ve been unable to write for a little while but now I should be able to jump back into it.

If you’re interested in following my posts for this challenge you can find more here. If Cyberpunk is more your thing check out this story. Otherwise I have two Fantasy series you can start here or here.

Hope you enjoy it,
– Zairron


The bloody veil shrouding the picture is torn asunder, revealing a merry tableau of two children playing; a girl and boy in a bright and lively room that is otherwise much alike in form to the one the man had been spirited from. Their innocent joy is clear at a glance. Their light hair shines like the sun and grants them a cherubic air of heavenly grace. In the air of this cold, dead place, his breath mists and hangs still in front of his face. The man is struck by the starkness of the happy scene against the terrible surrounding darkness.
Behind him the loud slam of a door opening violently prompts him to spin. Another larger picture hangs in the air, still wreathed in bloody red, the happy lighting in the room has been replaced with ominous shadows. Framed within the light of an open door the silhouette of Daddy intercepts the light entering the room, an axe visibly held in his hand as the children cower in the fore. A brutal yell explodes the stillness of the image. The picture becomes a slice of life performed in front of the mans awe struck eyes, the deep red of the pictures frame seeming to become deeply sanguine curtains.
Daddy steps into the silhouette, becoming his shadow. Dark eyed and tired, spittle flies from his mouth as he continues the insensible tirade that had broken the image. Cold eyes devoid of the fire in his words, within their dark pits only madness resides. In a swift, ugly motion, the axe is brought down and buried in the skull of the boy.

“No!” a young boys shrill voice cries out behind the man, continuing as he turns face their source, “It’s a mistake!”

The boy is knelt in the centre of the room, lit within a circle of light, before him in the glowing red shadows loom thirteen ephemeral judges. In perfect haunting unison they chant, “Suicide is what you are, you’re going down to Hell”

The young girls scream spins him back to face the previous scene. The scream is cut abruptly short as Daddy wraps his rough hands around her tiny throat. The bloody mess left by brother death covers her face as it changes from pale to blue. The curtains of blood are drawing in upon the scene.
Abandons her body as he stands, Daddy turns his back on the horrified observer. Barely visible the moment before the curtains close, a quiet click can be heard before the back of his skull explodes in bloody gore.

Flinching and hiding his eyes from the sudden explosion, when he opens his eyes the man finds himself back on the floor in the hall.
Scrambling to his feet, he looks himself over. No blood. Looking behind him, the cellar door is closed. His candle is lit by his feet, hadn’t he lost that fleeing the cellar? Could it all have been some kind of dream? I cannot stand this darkness,  he thinks, If candles are all I have I shall light them everywhere.
From room to room he works, spreading candles through the house to banish evil darkness. The furnace like heat that had plagued him in his flight through the house before now gone. Cold as the grave, shivering and exhausted he climbs the stairs. Filling his room with candles he seeks the refuge of his bed, drawing blankets thickly around him in a futile effort to ward off the cold he can feel his breathing grow shallow and weak. The temperature should be impossible, for it is summer time. All around him the shadows dance seemingly independent of the dictates of the light. As if afforded life of their own.
As the teeth of the cold sink into his heart through the blankets, he closes his eyes and drifts into sleep. What nightmares plague his waking mind can be no worse in sleep.

If I am to die, the thought ignites like a flame in his mind filling him with the sharp warmth of fatal conviction, I shall face my fate with my eyes open.

Fighting to his feet, casting off the blankets and lighting his last candle from the dying remains of one of the few that had survived the demonic shadows dance. Lifting black hat to his head and cane in hand, he strides with purpose from the room he had hidden himself within to confront the spectre as it assails him.
He finds her within the attic, staring from the window at the full moon. Turning her tragic dead face towards him, shadowed with the light behind her she stares at him expectantly.

“Do not be afraid there won’t be any pain, I… Need your soul”

Understanding now. The Judges of the afterlife had somehow mistaken her brother’s murder and their daddy’s suicide. Found falsely guilty of the mortal sin of suicide, the boy was damned to hell. Without another soul to take his place, he would be consigned to eternal torment.
The man feels deeply for the girl. His heart is not of stone, but with this new knowledge he now knows the futility of her request. Kneeling before the spectre girl, he takes he hand in his, feeling the dampness of brothers blood upon them.

“No, no, no…” he whispers, eyes distant as he remembers a life well lived, “My soul is no good. All I have done… My soul is full of sin!”

The girls searching eyes fix him, he can feel them peering deep through him, into him; settling on his soul they see the truth in his words. Black as devils words, unfit for salvation the mans soul cannot save her brother now.
Despair takes wicked root in the heart of the ghost child. Having come so far, from beyond the veil of death for her brother only to fail here. Thick, salty, tears form in her eyes and run down her cheek to fall and crash around her as she sobs, “I’ve let my brother down, down to hell he must go.”

From deep within the silent depths of the house, the steady ticking of the clock can be heard.

“No,” the sin filled man whispers, “How did you find me here?”

In confusion her tears stalls, as she stares at him curiously she answers, “This house is where we were killed. You touched our story so I could come to you.”

“Touched your story?” he muses, a wicked glimmer of an idea glints in his eye, “Would hearing your story count?”

With a timid nod she confirms his plan. We thank you for touching the story of a poor damned child. There is only one more thing to ask of you, Give me your soul… Please?

Give Me Your Soul… Please (pt. 2)

A short story taken from one of my absolute favourite albums of all time, Give Me Your Soul… Please, by King Diamond. The album tells a story of a haunted house, below is my take on the fantastic album. I was mistaken yesterday, this will definitely be three parts, I am very much enjoying writing this.

Sorry it’s late today, but hopefully its better late than never. Also it’s very slightly shorter than usual, to end for a good place for the story.

If you’re interested in following my posts for this challenge you can find more here. If Cyberpunk is more your thing check out this story. Otherwise I have two Fantasy series you can start here or here.

Hope you enjoy it,
– Zairron


“Why are you hands so full blood,” he whispers, “It’s in your hair too! Good god…”

Silent, the vision of the girl in the cellar remains unmoving. Staring at something beyond the the view of the mirror, in the dull light its difficult to even tell if her dress was originally red or if it is simply bloody white. Entranced by the occult occurrence unfolding before his eyes the man stares intently at the scene in the mirror. Covered in blood that seems not to be her own, her only injuries seem the terrible bruises in large hand shapes encircling her neck.
A sodden thud sounds behind him. Spinning in place he is met by a bloody hand print on the wall behind him. Above the gory marking, an unfamiliar crucifix hangs inverted on the wall. The house is silent save for the creaks and groans of the aged wood, a wet dripping noise draws his attention back to the mirror. Blood covers the entire surface, dripping steadily into a slowly growing puddle on the floor.

The candle’s dim glow illuminates the mans face. Fear must obviously exist within him, but in that moment the uncontrollable need to know more rules him. With his spectral pursuer gone, he turns away from the bloody mirror and satanic symbolism on the wall and climbs carefully down the dark stairs.
Magic is nowhere to be seen, the cat without fear in the dark house. At the foot of the stairs, he can see the front door just ahead promising freedom and safety as long as he leaves now. He knows deep down that he should go, take the opportunity now and flee. The bright light of the full moon shines in through the window, offering nearly as much light as his candle. In the pale silver glow, a trail of blood leads across the wooden floor. Following the trail away from the freedom promised by the door, he is led deeper into the darkness of the house. An evil presence grows in power, the sweltering heat building with ever step towards the cellar. He should go down there, not tonight, not with this evil presence in the air. But he does.
Incapable of penetrating the gloom, he abandons the silver moonlight to the world above. The previous darkness of the house above like the brightest day before the blackness at the bottom of the stares before the door to the cellar. The candle light flickers weakly, barely able to illuminate beyond him. The fear that had been put to sleep by the power of his curiosity has woken with a vengeance. No going back now.

Opening the door, the shadows burst forth in a swarm of fluttering black wings. Without substance but heavy with malice, they part before the light. Deep within the darkness the light illuminates a small figure, wreathing it in a halo of inverted light.
The silence grows in power. The unnatural emptiness banishing all natural sounds beneath a wheezing, raspy breath. Frozen in terror, filled with terror and regret for his poor choice the man watches helplessly as the figure begins to move. An arm moving as if in slow motion raises from its side to point its dainty little finger directly at him. A gust of wind snuffing out the candles flame.
At once the spell is broken and he screams, stumbling and falling in his haste to flee the cellar. The voice of the young girl, rough with the trauma of asphyxiation whispers a deadly message, “Mine… mine… mine… Give me your soul please! Mine! Mine! Mine!”

“STAY AWAY FROM ME!”

Dragging himself up the stairs, crawling as his fear has compromised his ability to stand. The shadowy wings assault him with every step, while bloody hands grasp at his feet. His energy draining by the second. I shouldn’t be here, he laments silently through tears, not tonight.
His hand reaches the stair above, the silver moon light illuminating it brings him hope. The strength he is given in that moment allows him to pull himself over the edge, free from the cellar and the girls inhuman grip. Still sobbing in fear, now mixed with relief, he continues to drag himself towards the door. With the sight of freedom just ahead, the last thought before he collapses in supernatural slumber, I can’t believe I made it out of there.

“Go to sleep and I… I will tell you… I will tell you why I’m here” her tortured voice carries him away from his body.

Coming to in a nightmarish place, he finds himself alone in the presence of the girl. What is this place? Have I died? Am I dreaming? Seeing the area clearly now they are surrounded by a hall of portraits, their contents concealed by a layer of blood. Rather than be afraid however, he is filled with sympathy for the girl. Hardly older than single digit years, the markings on her body make the story of her murder so clear. He understands that she has brought him here to explain and that he should listen and watch as she begins to speak the pictures in red begin one by one to part the bloody veils and reveal the hidden history behind the girl in the bloody dress.

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